Post 26, 2009: Why issue a press release if you aren’t ready to discuss it?

I’m experiencing one of the more regular PR-induced frustrations today, namely an organisation emitting a press release without having spokespeople ready to explain it.

Here’s what happened.

A release arrived in my inbox and piqued my interest.

I contacted the in-house PR person listed as a contact and sent her an email … then received an “out of office” email saying she is unavailable for a further two days.

So I contacted the agency, who called back and told me they have to discover who the spokesperson is for the press release.

This is a big, fat, contemptuous fail for two reasons.

The first is simple logistics: if someone is out for two days, they simply should not be included as a contact for a press release.

The second is the terrible mixed message it sends. Emitting a release, after all, says “we want to discuss this.” When that experience turns into “actually, we are not ready to discuss this” the company involved looks amateurish. The company also looks cynical and disrespectful, because the idea of communicating with media (I have always felt) is to facilitate the free and rapid flow of information so that media can act on it quickly. And quickly is important these days!

When a vendor and agency are unprepared to actually follow through in a timely fashion, I feel like they simply do not get it and are wasting my time and complicating my life.

The chances that I will respect the vendor and its agency decline markedly* and I become less inclined to reach out to these organisations for assistance in future. I am pretty sure those outcomes are not what PR tries to achieve.

* I try, of course, to remain objective. But poor experiences like this mean I am more likely to turn to reliable sources of information and remember this product in light of the poor experience involved in sourcing information about it.

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One thought on “Post 26, 2009: Why issue a press release if you aren’t ready to discuss it?

  1. This used to be commonplace in the pre cellular phone days. A vendor would send out a press release then jump on a plane to California for a week’s training on the product concerned and be totally incommunicado. To disappear off the face of the earth for two whole days at a moment like this in a era of cheap, easy global communications really is a slap in the face.

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