PR emails should get to the point, not act like an American waiter asking how everyone is doing

This week, some NAPA agencies got a press release from one of those PR companies they’ve never actually spoken to. It had the subject line: “We’re all going on a summer holiday.”

So far, so good. Must be a release about holidays for the silly season.

But no, it went on: “No more working for a week or two, Dave*? Hopefully you’re squeezing the most out of summer by jetting off to some far-flung destination, sun hat in hand and a smile in your heart.”

And it didn’t end there.

“Or perhaps, like us, you’re paying tribute to the warmest season by spending far too much time at your local rooftop bar. Anyway, I digress.”

Even ignoring the fact that anyone on their summer holiday would not be reading this in the first place, it’s guaranteed to piss off those who are sitting in their office while the August rain drips down the windows.

Journalists are not exactly open-hearted, warm and generous to PRs in the first place.

There’s a legendary reporter at one of our national midmarket tabloids who basically doesn’t like speaking to any of them and if they dare phone to ask if he’s seen their email, replies: “If I’ve seen it and if I wanted to speak to you, I would have rung. Goodbye.” (To any PRs reading this, if it’s any consolation he’s like that with almost everyone.)

But the point is this: If you are writing a standfirst to attract the journalist’s attention, why act like one of those waiters in American burger chains who sit down at your table and ask “how’s everyone doing?”

Obviously there are worse crimes in the relationship between PRs and journalists. I can think of at least one major PR agency that most of us don’t trust and, likewise, most PR agencies have at least one journalist they refuse to deal with.

A lot of PR agencies have found it useful to hire former journalists, often with a great deal of experience, to manage this kind of relationship.

It generally works, if not for any other reason than to give the PR an insight into how the mind of a journalist works (i.e: it all boils down to the story) and it gives the journo a bit more of a clue into how PR works (i.e: it all boils down to the client.)

*I say Dave but it was any named person depending on the recipient.

Comments

3 thoughts on “PR emails should get to the point, not act like an American waiter asking how everyone is doing”

  1. Emails…? It was just the same with posted PR. The ‘phone rings and the voice at the other end – usually female, well-spoken and young – enquires, “Have you got our press release, are you going to use it?” For the unfortunate journalist who made the mistake of engaging with said PR Bunny and suggests possibly, yes then comes the million dollar question: “Well, if you do could you send us ten copies of your publication?” So, they don’t actually buy it or subscribe, they have wasted ten minutes of your day and they don’t actually read your newspaper/magazine.

  2. Those emails should be like a good story, with a subject line to attract interest and a 20 word first paragraph that encapsulates the story. Subsequent paragraphs can expand the story, for people with the time and inclination to read on.

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