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It always staggers me when I receive a badly-written press release or PR pitch, simply because there’s so much advice out there on how to do it right.

But if there’s one thing that I just can’t understand, it is when PR people ask you to do their job for them.

You can tell a PR has strayed out of their traditional comfort zone when you see this kind of demand in a press release: “Please contact me if you place any of the following information on your site.”

This is pretty dumb for a bunch of reasons. It says the following, to the unfortunate recipient:

1.    I do not actually read your blog.
2.    I won’t notice your efforts.
3.    I want something for free but I won’t say thank you.
4.    To sum up: I don’t properly track my campaigns.
5.    That’s because I don’t care about proving ROI.
6.    My clients don’t care too much either. We’re cool like that.
7.    Reputation monitoring? What’s that?
8.    I have no clue how to move my business forward.
9.    RSS? What’s that?
10.  I have no clue how to move my business forward.

PR people should know better. We still see lots of press releases with CAPS LOCK switched on for headlines (bad for email deliverability, and there’s no need to holler), we still see a lack of personalisation (‘Dear Anonymous Blogger’being my favourite), and we still see plenty of PRspeak (leverage your synergies elsewhere, dammit), but this ‘Please contact me’ nonsense really takes the biscuit.

One of our contributors on this blog recently penned an article about how PR will replace SEO. I like the theory but this isn’t something that will happen anytime soon (if at all) because many PR people simply don’t know the basics, and it is clear that they’re not properly measuring the success of their campaigns. You have to wonder why not.

Even if we put recessionary fear and loathing to one side, PRs – like many other marketing services professionals – will have to get used to the idea of proving their worth. I know that measurement has never been straightforward in PRland, and it certainly isn’t a pure science, but then again it isn’t rocket science either.

The point is, if you aren’t looking in the first place then it’s patently clear that you’re not bothered about measurement.

And if this us you, then you might want to take a quick look over your shoulder.

Further Reading
Online Reputation Monitoring worth £60m in 2008
Is PR broken?

Chris Lake

Published 26 September, 2008 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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Denis Eggert

Hi Chris,
I totally agree on your point of view. Same here in Germany. I wish more companies would pay attention or invest in online pr.

Regards,
Denis

about 8 years ago

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Tim Lundberg, Online Marketing Manager at Signet Jewellers

In reference to online PR. The industry has changed, the use of the internet has introduced a level of measurablility somewhat abhorrent to marketing/pr professionals from the old school. But this article seems to be bemoaning the inability of this old school to catch up. Surely, it would be wiser to look to the next generation of marketing professionals and PR professionals who embrace and understand modern innovation, rather than waiting for the old industry to wake up and smell the smoke?

Two points for my fellow readers, in reference to showells post.

One: All copywriters are experts in avoiding financial meltdown, especially freelance copywriters!

Two: That is one long title.

about 8 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@tim - measurability and proving value have always been difficult offline, it's a large blog post in itself. Some of the methodology used is suspect, whereas online it is easier to collate your efforts. I just wonder why *some* online PR firms don't see this... and the old school should also be prompted into action (let's not write them off just yet).

@showells - Pat is a freelance writer for us who focuses on tools / tips for internet professionals. He's doing something on reputation monitoring tools to support my post. His points on the financial meltdown may be slightly outside his usual scope, but the post fits the current climate, which is why it was published. I agree that the end of the post could have been better edited.

about 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Tim Lundberg, Online Marketing Manager at Signet Jewellers

One of the roles of a good copywriter is to be versatile and expert in a wide range of fields.

I agree about measurability and have often thought myself a bit of a lone voice for actually advocating it. I personally think that 'some' don't see this because it isn't part of offline PR, as such, or at least not in any relevant form. Having worked in online content for almost 8 years and been involved in the internet, writing and publishing for somewhat longer, I have watched offline industries 'notice, learn and adapt' to the internet and almost always they come at it trying to make it fit the offline model. There then erupts an argument between old school and new school, the answer more often than not lying somewhere in the middle.

I am often challenged by new school PR types who think it is just about quantity over quality, press release to spread links and content for keywords etc and miss the point that online Press releases and content can also build and maintain a brand. On the other hand my experience with old school marketing and pr types is way too offline and doesn't take into account new technologies or capabilities.

My belief is that there is a new industry somewhere in the middle that encapsualtes PR, marketing and avertising beyond 'Integrated Marketing' that will have a new name away from PR, either online or offline and will reflect the need to combine online and offline campaigns and embrace measurability with creativity and reputation and brand management.

Sorry if this is a bit hurried, but i am at work and squeezing this in between jobs.

about 8 years ago

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