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Amateurism Hurts PR Field
We're our own worst enemy.

by G.A. "Andy" Marken
Marken Communications

Common Faults


If you analyze any business-oriented product category, it can't possibly be of interest to 200-300 business and trade publication readers. Yet a common practice with people who relate quantity to quality, and who weigh clippings by the pound, is to cast spam releases to the four winds in hope that someone, somewhere will find something of interest and print their gems of creative genius.

Even firms that are able to find information and present it in a way that might interest the editors often fall short when it comes time to getting the piece out. Commonly voiced editors' complaints include:

  • Hand-delivering a release to an editor to make certain that he or she receives it.

  • Reading a release to the editor over the phone.

  • Simultaneously giving the release to four or more editors at the same publication.

  • Emailing the release and then calling to make certain that the editor received it, or calling to ask if it's okay to a release.

  • Meaningless personal notes accompanying a release.

  • Excessively long releases.

  • Cute, meaningless and trivial notes in an email before the editor gets to the message.

  • Spamming the release to 50-100+ editors listing all of their names/addresses before the reporter can get to the reason for the email.

  • Embedding the release in the email and attaching an HTML copy that must be downloaded and usually discarded before it is open (no one trusts unsolicited attachments any more).

  • Requesting that no changes be made in the release copy.

  • Expecting clippings of the printed release.

  • Manipulatively pointing it out when the firm is also an advertiser.

Few public relations professionals can honestly say that they haven't been guilty of one or more of these areas at one time or another. Actually, we're a lot like our editorial counterparts -- we work hard to get an item placed that we feel is newsworthy. But this is a far cry from the marketing neophyte who feels that he or she has a hidden talent for writing and placing "masterpieces" for a company.

Publicity is a Powerful Tool

An organized, well-executed publicity program which is integrated into a firm's overall effort can reap handsome results. It can:

  • Make readers aware of the company, its products, its capabilities

  • Pave the way for the sales force

  • Help explore new potential markets

  • Build relations with current customers

  • Establish a stronger position with the financial community

If the company isn't serious in looking for this beneficial coverage, then it can let a clerk or junior member of the organization handle publicity and news releases. However, it has always been my opinion that good publicity deserves priority attention, as it can result in better bottom-line profits for the company.

  First page > Amateurism Hurts Us All > Page 1, 2

Prior to forming Marken Communications in mid-1977, Andy Marken was vice president of Bozell & Jacobs and its predecessor agencies.  Marken Communications is a full-service agency that concentrates on business-to-business market planning, positioning, development, and communications. For more information, visit or write

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