If you’re like most entrepreneurs starting a business, your operation is likely a one-man show. You not only write the checks, you make the sales, answer the phones, and maybe even clean up at the end of the night. Chances are you’re probably also responsible for your start-up’s public relations too. That’s where things can get tricky. While writing a solid business plan is one thing, crafting press releases that actually get the job done is entirely another. The biggest problem with most press releases we’ve seen is that they’re either 1) irrelevant to anything the publication would write about, 2) poorly written, 3) nonsensical, or 4) overly self-promotional to the point of parody. But few come close to this—the Mother of all crappy press releases, which we spotted today over at Gawker. While it obviously takes a certain type of person to come up with something this unbelievably inane (and we doubt any of you have that in you), it’s still a spot-on example of everything that’s wrong most press releases all balled up into one. Gawker breaks it down step-by-step (which is the only way to tackle this monstrous thing), and we’ve done the same, but with our own commentary:
Press release sez: “The news reports coming out of Mexico City are downright scary this week, as more than 100 deaths in the country are being investigated as possibly tied to the swine influenza virus outbreak that’s gripping North America. Reports of the illness in Mexico come at a tough time for the country’s tourism industry, which is already reeling with negative publicity about drug cartel fueled violence. But renowned Life Stylist Blair French (www.blairfrench.com), a New Yorker who has lived in the beautiful and charming town of San Miguel de Allende-about three hours north of Mexico City – for two years, says it’s time to take a “siesta” on the negativity and turn it into a “fiesta” for a lifestyle you can’t find anywhere else.”
We say: Huh? While starting off with a news hook to get a journalist’s attention is usually a good idea (journalists love topical relevancy—it’s called a news peg), none of this makes sense. Refer back to reason three (above) that most press releases suck.
Press release sez: “The multi-faceted dynamo attests that despite the health scare and reports on the drug cartels, Mexico is 99.9 percent safer for Americans than living in the U.S. She believes the media has used these news items to fashion a misleading portrayal of Mexico as a third world country.
“The government has taken measures in preventing the further spread of the Swine Flu by administering antiviral drugs to the population,” she says. “I’m sure that Mexico will overcome this and is fully aware of what needs to be done to protect its citizens.”
We say: The media’s stirred this whole thing up! Wait – isn’t this press release going to the media? Whoops. Secondly, don’t ever, ever, EVER call yourself a “multi-faceted dynamo” or anything else that’s going to prompt people to start looking for evidence to the contrary. This gets to that “overly self-promotional to the point of parody” thing we were talking about. Also, none of this makes any sense. And it’s poorly written.
Press release sez: “French, who in her business blends all aspects of a person’s life together – health, fitness, food, fashion, entertainment and decor – helps create a lifestyle for someone that is uniquely one’s own. She also does catering and event planning and loves to learn about other countries and cultures.
Corroborating French’s optimism is Dr. Julio Frenk, the former Mexican national health minister and new dean of the Harvard School of Public Health. Explaining that Mexico had built up substantial supplies of antiviral medication, he believes the outbreak will be brought under control because of the integrated network of specialists in the U.S., Canada and the WHO.”
We say: You have to give someone credit who’s managed to somehow connect “health, fitness, food, fashion, entertainment and decor” with swine flu. And then you have to laugh at them. Long and hard.
Anyone have questions on how not to write a press release? We think it’s now pretty clear.