On a recent foray into cyberspace I found an article by a PR person providing step-by-step instructions on writing a media release. To many of us who make a living from drafting media releases – and the many other types of PR copy – this is something of an ‘own goal’: why tell potential clients how to do something free that you could do for a fee?
‘How to’ articles like that one are often dangerous, because they don’t always cover all the essential steps. Even with the best will in the world, they cannot conjure up those vital sparks of creative genius and journalistic flair that are honed by many years’ experience of news and PR writing.
As a result, do-it-yourself PR attempts often fail, leaving their authors disillusioned with the process – and their communication plans unfulfilled. Worse, they may not even turn to professionals for help.
The alternative scenario involves outsourcing the preparation and dissemination of media releases to dedicated PR specialists who know how to achieve results and have a track record to prove it. This scenario does not have to be expensive, but it is certainly the more cost-effective – especially as it frees up client time for concentrating on mainstream company business.
Few companies are strong enough to meet all their service requirements in-house, so they buy-in a host of skills when needed. PR is one such skill.
Perhaps the one redeeming feature of the ‘own goal’ article I read on the Internet was that it could help potential clients to understand some of the complexities of writing releases. Enough perhaps, to steer them in the direction of my professional colleagues and me: but not enough to turn them into successful PR writers – however well they write by any other standards.
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 17 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.