web analytics

Predictable press releases

Press releases are predictable.

Although original ideas occasionally slip through the net, they generally follow the same pattern:

  • Headline. Should, but often doesn’t, include the most important or newsworthy point.
  • Optional second deck. Another chance to miss making the most important point. It can add facts to the headline.
  • Opening paragraph. A good press release encapsulates the entire story in the first paragraph. Some do. Half the time it will claim the company is a leader or even a world leader in its field.
  • Banal first quote. Almost inevitably the first quote is from the most important person at the company paying for the press release – possibly the person who signs off the public relations invoice. As a rule the first quote is instantly forgettable – most editors will immediately strike a line through it. It will generally be a variation on the theme of “we are so damn clever”, “we worked hard” or “we’re better than everyone else”.
  • Optional, press releases often use the third paragraph to waffle about something of no interest to any sane person.
  • Facts. If you’re lucky, the next few paragraphs will include facts. Don’t hold your breath.
  • Quotes. Next come quotes where people are in danger of saying something worthwhile or interesting – note this is also optional.
  • Partners. The press release then moves on to quotes from people who have important business relations with the company paying for the release. They can be interesting, but I wouldn’t bank on it.
  • Important stuff. If the press release is about a product, there may be price and availability details at this point. On the other hand there may not.
  • Ridiculous big noting. Press releases often end with unrealistically positive paragraphs explaining how the company would like the rest of the world to see it.

Published by Bill Bennett

Not actually a geek, more a chronicler of geekdom. Still mainly a journalist, sometimes a blogger.