28 July 2011

The Press Release Parade

imageI’m on the list.

That doesn’t make me special by any standards. Press Releases are like virtual confetti nowadays.*

imageMost are daft, pointless blather.  While the salutation “Hi Chuck” makes it appear as if the sender has some clue about what my blog is about, it’s usually a tip-off that whatever PR genius it is has never read my posts

And they usually have no idea what they’re writing about. A recent (expurgated) one:

Hi Chuck,
Meredith, the publisher of large-circulation magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal, is beginning to guarantee some of its biggest advertisers that major ad campaigns in Meredith titles will actually increase their sales by a certain amount. But will this be a big enough incentive to make advertisers switch to print?

Advertisers aren’t switching to print.  They’ve been using print advertising successfully for hundreds of years. If anything, they may be thinking about switching to ether. 

More from the press release:

The attractiveness of internet advertising lies in its innate ability to track returns and manage spending to a very fine degree due to the immediate nature of response it is able to generate.

Ah, yes.  Tracking returns:

Click this ad. 0.051% do.

The Click: Brand Marketing's Most Misleading Measure
image… a tiny fraction of people ever click on an ad. In fact, 99% of stable cookies examined never click on an ad … optimization of campaigns to achieve higher CTR may in fact be reducing brand ROI.

I won’t comment on Meredith’s ‘guarantee’ and if it’s good  for them, or for advertisers.  My guess is that it’s simply a promotional vehicle that has to do with flattening ad revenue across all media – not a response to web advertising as implied by the misleading press release.  More than likely, Meredith is focusing on major advertisers, competing for print dollars and, perhaps, TV revenue.  Web advertising is actually a big dud:

The Real Thing vs. The Virtual Thing

* Disclosure: I toss handfuls for clients every so often.

Disclaimer: This post is in no way a commentary on the Public Relations industry. Many well-respected professionals condemn confetti press releases.