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False power of an exclusive press release

In Dealing with grumpy editorsDan Kaufman writes about the exclusive press release:

I don’t understand why PRs give editors exclusives – because for the most part it does the PR and their client more harm than good.You see, if a story is newsworthy then it’ll run anyway – and if it isn’t then giving it as an exclusive isn’t going to make much difference.

Kaufman goes on to say if a PR person gives an editor a decent story as an exclusive, it will upset other editors. He says piss off, but this is a family website.

This happens all the time here in New Zealand. The practice is counter-productive.

It can certainly destroy trust a PR person or company has built.

Exclusive… oh yeah?

Waking-up, reading a so-called exclusive story then later in the day getting a press release covering the same ground happens too often in New Zealand.

Often this happens when a public relations person thinks they might get sympathetic or splashy coverage of their story if they play favourites.

PRs have approached me offering to trade an exclusive for a favourable position: often the cover of a print title. They may even ask to vet the copy in return for the story. This, in effect, can mean an editor enters into a conspiracy to mislead readers.

Many 'exclusives' are rubbish stories

Often stories ‘leaked’ this way are rubbish – they read more like advertising than news. Editors giving the press release an early run are manipulated into becoming part of a marketing exercise.

My response to this is to stop trusting the PR person behind the leak. This means they’ll have difficulty slipping any of their future propaganda past me. In extreme cases I’ve ignored any further communication from the source. And I’ve been known to make a formal complaint to the client. In one case I had to tell a PR’s other clients I could no longer work with their agent.

And anyway, if a company thinks it is that important to get their message in a publication they should look at advertising.