Several years ago, a well-known New Jersey PR executive wrote the following in a national public relations trade publication: “Virtually never, however, are releases reprinted verbatim by any responsible publication. It’s just not done, and I defy anyone to show me where this has happened.”
Not one to let a challenge like that pass, I sent a few samples of news releases I sent out that were printed verbatim in newspapers. The releases represented several industries, and as I noted in my cover letter, I have notebooks stuffed full of similar articles. I also noted that there wasn’t a geographical bias, either, as the samples I sent covered papers from California to New York.
I never heard back from the executive, nor to my knowledge did he ever acknowledge publicly that someone had proven his assertion wrong.
As newsrooms shed jobs and try to keep up with less staff, it’s still true today that a well-written news release can easily be reprinted entirely, or with very minor edits, in consumer and trade publications.
While this wouldn’t fly at The New YorkTimes, smaller papers tend to lack the resources to do as much original reporting as they might like, and they seem to appreciate a well written, newsworthy release from a trusted source.
This does not mean, as some have suggested, that journalism is in a state of decline, or that such newspapers are irresponsible.
Over the years, I’ve worked to develop good relationships with editors and reporters where my clients have operations, as do all good PR executives. I believe we are viewed by many media outlets as extra sets of arms and legs that bring valuable news items to the table.
As long as advertising agencies get their facts straight, focus on relevant topics and not try to pass off advertising disguised as “news,” they can provide an important service to these papers—and help their clients look good in the process.
Normally my objective with a news release is to generate enough interest among reporters so that they will want to schedule an interview and do their own stories. But, when staff limitations prohibit that, I’ll gladly take a reprint of my release any day.
Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.