News Cycle or Cycling News?

My daily train commute is simply structured, and frequently repeated. Email, Twitter, news digests.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

What’s becoming as equally repetitive, however, is the “news” flung over a newswire. Partnerships – Products – New clients (bonus points if someone can complete the alliteration to @paragonpatrick).

The news that HBO’s Silicon Valley, a brilliant show by the way, has been planting fake news stories in Google search results highlighted this realization.

Silicon Valley HBO Fake News

Is Hooli this year’s sell in May?

The satire wasn’t lost on @ReformedBroker, aka Downtown Josh Brown (aka Chairman of the Twitter Fed).

So, what’s brought us to this point? What is causing the disconnect between content producers and its consumers? I can think of one major driver – or rather, thousands.

And unfortunately, PR can be implicit in the cycle of monotony.

Press Release Proliferation

A press release is the bluntest object in the public relations toolkit. It’s also become the object of much abuse – although I suppose it is the perfect apparatus if your aim is to bludgeon your contacts and readers. It shouldn’t be any wonder then that each year the release is declared dead (it’s not), or that you’ve heard about bad experiences.

I once had a journalist reply, “Nobody cares” about a release I distributed two years ago. I’ve never laughed that hard at work. However, it did wake me up to how many partnership releases he was being hard sold on every day.

Pitch Email Reply

PROOF! Maybe it was because he was mobile?

I didn’t bring thin skin to financial communications, but I was now adamantly against reverting to PR 201 tactics (101 is a bit too rudimentary).

Nowhere is this type of press release more prevalent than fintech. And nowhere is it more important to have real news than this exploding sector ($12.2B in 2014, tripled from 2013, according to Accenture). I understand the desire to put out press releases about client wins when a startup is looking for funding, or has just been funded and needs to make rain. But the ensuing flood of releases has diluted the value of real news.

Before you jump to put out a release, review your initial strategy, communications plan and upcoming pipeline. If another client win is on the horizon, perhaps there’s an opportunity to package the two. Oh, your API is due for an update? Add a quote and single graf in a client release, and close out that news flash.

The Opportunity Cost of Lazy Public Relations

If the consideration for journalists and their readers doesn’t inspire change, consider your resources.

Press releases take time.

Messaging, drafting, editing, approval (especially this one), targeting and pitching don’t happen in short-order. Weigh the benefits of spending resources on another shallow release against an op-ed, research piece or proactive campaign around a theme. Even if the bylined article takes longer, the impact will be there, and your company’s voice won’t be muted by saturating newswires with another “news” release.

Take a page out of HBO’s book. Think of something unique that aligns with your messaging, and execute it to perfection. Everyone, including the humble commuter, will appreciate real commentary instead of stale boilerplate.

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