Pritchitt Partners recently hosted a lunch to farewell Barrie Dunstan, who has retired from the Australian Financial Review. Barrie was one of Australia’s most respected voices on investment and finance for over 40 years.
Among the many anecdotes at the lunch, Barrie reminisced about his first finance editor when he started out in journalism.
Every morning the finance editor sorted the press releases received in the mail into three piles. The smallest pile contained information that “might be of interest to readers”. The middle pile was releases that “might be of use one day”. But far and away the largest pile was “only of interest to the company”. This pile went straight into the bin.
Obviously the pile that all organisations hope to get into is the one that contains information of interest to readers. While distribution methods may have changed and printed release are a thing of the past, many releases are still seen by the journalists that receive them as being of no interest to them or their readers/listeners/viewers.
Turning information into a release that is of interest to the media is a skill good public relations practitioners should provide.
Unfortunately it doesn’t always happen this way. Sometimes it’s the fault of the business. Some organisations’ management seems to want to dictate the basis and style of all releases – often wishing to stress points that are far more important to the company than they are to anyone else.
A good example is product releases. Companies might think a new product is really important – possibly because its success is critical to the organisation’s profitability.
Yet if it’s just another “me too” product, editors are hardly likely to get excited about it.
Indeed, as a generalisation, the media doesn’t see their role as promoting products in editorial – their aim is to give useful information on topics of relevance to their readers/listeners/viewers. A release about a product using superlatives and flowery descriptions is inevitably destined for the “of no interest” pile.
There are many other reasons why releases don’t get used. A recent article by journalist David Wilson in the Sydney Morning Herald highlights some of these (click here to read the article), many of which have been discussed in these blogs before, for example: