Dear Pee Arr
I hope this letter finds you well. Actually, I don’t really – I haven’t even met you – but since you always start off that way, I thought I’d do it too.
So look, I love you, really I do. Some of my best friends are Pee Arrs. But we need to talk about your press releases – because even the 419 scammers’ mails are sent to my Junk Mail folder before I delete them. Your release, however, is summarily deleted – all I need is the email subject and sometimes the first paragraph, to help me make my decision.
I’m sorry if this makes you wail and beat your breast. I know you worked hard on that release. But I’m afraid that all it told me – in flashing neon lights, was that you and our client really don’t understand the media at all.
So I made you a list. It’s probably not exhaustive, and my colleagues will be only too happy to add to it, I’m sure. But here are 13 possible reasons why I deleted your press release today.
1 You spelt my name wrong.
2. You forgot to add my name to the mailshot, so it just reads “Dear…” Spray and Pray 101, dear. If you’re going to send out boilerplate releases, do try to make them seem personalised.
3 You started your email, “Hey, babe …”
4 You don’t have a working definition of ‘news’. A product launch does not equal news. Nor does a rebranding. Nor does your client’s opinion on some minor niche issue that affects three people in a dungeon in Pofadder. I think it was George Orwell who defined news as something that somebody, somewhere, wants suppressed. Everything else is public relations.
5 You used words like ‘innovative’ and ‘unique’ and ‘disrupt’. Again. No. Just no. You need to read a little more and expand your vocabulary. At the very least, learn what those words actually mean.
6 Your release is five pages long. Keep it to one page, and 300 words tops, and I might be more inclined to read it. I probably won’t use it, but it may spark an idea, and for that you need me to get to the end.
7 You’ve addressed an email to a freelancer, asking them if they might be able to use your release in their publication. I despair.
8 You think I still hold a permanent position at a magazine that I last held 20 years ago.
9 You are trying very hard to promote a client to the general public, when you should be aiming at a different sector.
10 You want coverage in a magazine at a particular time, and you sent the release a week beforehand.
11 Your release is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors.
12 You’ve sent the same release more than once today, or you’ve sent me eight different ones in the past hour.
13 You haven’t thought about the audience of the publication or channel I work for – don’t send your arthritis remedy to a teen magazine, you know? Your spray and pray is showing.
Anyway, I must go. Just thought you might like to know.
Lots of love,