My own personal favourite – as attendees of PR for Virgins will know – is this gem from "Angry" Frank Buonanotte.
It's difficult to know quite where or how to start critiquing this press release. Even his title is all about him, presumably in the belief that his name and job title are enough to engage his audience.
To give credit where some is due, he does eventually get to the point – and it has a New Zealand connection which is a happy surprise – but you have to wade through so much ranting and personal opinion to get there that even the most determined reader has probably given up by then.
He was even so self-absorbed that he thought that the 10th anniversary of 9-11 was a reasonable date to unleash his fascinating news upon the world. Stunning.
If you're thinking of writing a press release, and would like to avoid some rookie mistakes, here are 3 tips to start you on the right track:
- Make sure you immediately answer an editor's two most important questions, ie: "Why do I want to publish this?" and "Why do I want to publish it now?"
- Don't write an advert in disguise. Editors are experts at spotting these and will either pass your info to their sales desk or bin it completely.
- Write in plain everyday English. Ditch the sales-speak, industry jargon, technobabble and acronyms. See through your readers' eyes and talk their language. Will they understand what you're trying to say – and, even if they do, will they care?
* This is a pet hate of mine. Even worse is when something is described as "fairly unique" or "very unique." I close my eyes and grit my teeth every time I watch Star Trek: First Contact and try to ignore my beloved Captain Picard talking of his "somewhat unique" perspective of the Borg.