PR People: Please Don’t Assume You Know Me (Unless You Do)

Posted on 05 June 2009

I regularly receive media releases from some PR people around town. And they’re usually dreadful!

One PR person in particular, whom I’ve never met in person, e-mails her media releases with a chatty covering note starting “Dear media friends”. Wrong! Media people are not the “friends” of PR people. They don’t run stories as a favour to their friends; they run stories because they think those stories will be interesting or useful to their readers/viewers/listeners. So when you send a media release, don’t waste time with a chatty covering message – just get straight to the point.

I was especially flabbergasted by a media release I received yesterday from this PR person, who represents a group of restaurants in Hong Kong. The message was about a Father’s Day promotion coming up soon at one of the group’s restaurants. The first line of her covering e-mail, and the first line of the attached media release, was “[We] know you and your dad love each other.” Excuse me?! They KNOW?! Unless they have a frighteningly detailed and invasive database about everyone they write to, they can’t assume any such thing about me and every other reader of their message. They don’t know anything about me, my father, and our relationship with each other. They don’t even know whether my father is alive!

The lesson: When you’re writing a media release (or any marketing message), don’t claim to know anything about your reader’s personal life and emotions (unless you really truly do).

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