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Top ten most common mistakes PR agencies do when sending us press releases.

Sometimes I wonder, how do some PR agencies get paid for being so... Well, lets face it, bad. No no, I'm not saying that all of you PRgrunts are terrible, we have some good connections with some of you and look forward to your mails. But some others are really lost. Here's a list of the most common mistakes - perhaps some PR newbies might learn from this. If you wish to send things to us, don't make these mistakes.

#1 - The irrelevant release. We don't care for the MEHARRY MEDICAL COLLEGE SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR LEADS RESEARCH TEAM TO DEVELOP A GENE REPLACEMENT THERAPY FOR PREMATURE OVARIAN FAILURE (todays example) and get really cranky when our inbox is filled with things that are totally irrelevant to us. Don't buy email lists, sit down and make your own contact list by nurturing contacts that you have, after all that is what you get paid for!

#2 - The mass-mailed release. If the "TO" line in the email does not say our email address it goes straight to the spam box with all the other spam. Don't just shot off a release to a list of hundreds of people pretending it's personal. Send a personal release by creating one email for the intended recipient. Seriously! With all the spam these days, everyone is protecting their inbox and you do not want that release sent straight to /dev/null. We also find releases in the root mailbox which were sent to a totally different domain. Get the address straight please. TO: hostmaster AT adland.tv is the way it needs to be

#3 - Your ad embdedded somewhere else links. What the hell people? We ask you so politely to knock that off yet every day we waste time on follow-ups that are simply us asking you for the ad you want us to publish in the first place. Save us all some time and just send us the ad, willya? Perhaps we can then use the time for some real follow-ups like interviewing you about the ad instead. Don't think you're being clever by sending us metacafé links instead. We want the commercial - not a link*.
* download link is ok, obviously

#4 - Giving us a little info and asking us if we're interested in more info - we reply yes - and then you send us a wide open website page link with no downloadable extra content specifically for us. Bonus points if said page is marked with "digg this" and other blog-link type dealios. Why do you pretend to give us something special if it's already out there in a big web posting already? Just send us that link in the first place then, don't be so cryptic.

#5 - Attaching the entire release in a word document. Just stop it. Email was designed to carry text and all you did was format it in TIMES NEW ROMAN anyway.

#6 - Sending us things too late. Like that one Show invitation we got two hours before the party started, in New York. Even if I could have made the evening flight it still takes me six hours to fly across the Atlantic! Similarly, we really don't like when you send us things that "airs today" a quarter to five in the evening hoping that we'll have a post about it up in the next ten seconds. We plan our days too - send us things before they air the ensure that we talk about it the day it airs. If there's a lot of ads we should fix for you, give a few days at least. Also remember that I'm at least six hours ahead of you folks in the United States America (east coast) and so is our morning traffic. If you're smart you'd use this to help build hype.

#7 - You say "Please contact me if you require any further information." And we do contact you, and then you don't reply to us. Seriously, what gives? This happens more often than you'd think.

#8 - Your emails subject should tell us if there are attachments. Because we post ads here, be they print, radio, video or ambient we scan the inbox for interesting subjects and have found that the ones labeling exactly what is in the mail are the best. See, most subject lines try to be hip and really don't let us know what to expect once we open that mail, or they all say "new campaign from XYZ" or similar. Which is fine. So we throw ourselves on mails that clearly have attachments, assuming (correctly) that these aren't youtube linkfests. Sadly, most PR agencies have their own Vcard or some random gif with their logo attached to the mail, so we can't find the "good posts" this way either. If you're smart, you'll let us know in the subject if there's any images or films to download with your release, your email will get attention faster then. (also remember we don't like .wmv files. Please pretty pretty please don't send us .wmv files)

#9 The single line "viral seeding" email, cryptic on purpose, pretending not to know origin of ad. Seriously, we don't want to post anything that we know nothing about so cut that shit out already. No matter what free hotmail account you're hiding behind its a good guess that the ad is created by you. We'd be happy to hype it if you give us some information. We want the ins and outs of how it came about, why the idea ended up being the way it was, any interesting tidbits of information about the production, quotes from the creators, that sort of thing, etc.

#10 "Dear [blank]". Ok, fine, so we're all hiding behind pseudonyms here, but even just saying "Dear Adland" will score you higher politeness points. Don't be afraid to address your favorite poster directly since Dabitch and Caffeinegoddess both read the hostmaster mails every day.

Did you read this far? If so, thanks.

Rule of thumb: If you're going to bother sending in something, give us the assets to post about it on Adland, such as the creative pieces that you have shared with other sites. Pointing out that some other site linked to your news really isn't enough to motivate us to post it.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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adrants's picture

This list mirrors exactly my feelings and experiences I have had for years. It's amazing and unfortunate how things never change. I'd disagree (well, more like comment on) point 4. You want the actual commercial because that's what Adland/Commercial Archive is all about. Others may not want to host commercial but simply link to them (or use the embed code) where ever they may reside on the web.

The downside of linking or using embed code, of course, is that you have no control over the lifespan of the video. That would be a very bad thing for Commercial Archive since you have paying customers who expect to be able to find and view stuff. With other sites/blogs/etc, a link or an embed might be fine. Especially since many may not have hosting horsepower aking to Commercial Archive.

Personally, I'll take either. I'll host some and link to others. I don't really have a preference. I suppose it's personal preference thing.

But you are right about urging a PR person to learn the preferences of an individual site. Commercial Archive is a site that hosts commercials. Knowing this, a PR person should realize you want the actual file and not the link.

Great list!

Dabitch's picture

Which brings us right back to #2, the mass mailed release - personalize means not only getting the single email in that "TO:" line, but also getting the email sent the way the recipient wants it. For ten years, we've asked for the actual commercial, while Youtube has only existed since 2005.

We don't mind downloading the ad elsewhere, be it yousendit or behind a password protected thing at the production house site. It's the links straight to their "blog page" (a blog that exists only for that single posting) with embededded flash films and big digg this buttons on it sent to us after we ask for more info that feels like a bit of a slap in the face. That's just odd.

TDD's picture

Thanks for providing the 'open door' into your world. It is fascinating for me to walk in, and take a look around. I leave with a much greater understanding and appreciation of what it takes to run Adland on a day-today level. I'll hit the tip jar on my way out.

"Happiness is overrated."

DavidGriner's picture

How could I ever pick between Dabitch and Caffeinegoddess? That's like Sophie's Choice!

I'm glad that I've avoided being on most PR folks' e-mail lists. It gives a certain "organic" quality to what I find. I like to see that something gained a little traction before I wrote about it, so that we're reporting buzz more than creating it.

It was kinda the same deal when I was a journalist....I felt like press releases were almost the antithesis of news, since the idea was to generate interest in something no one cared about yet.

Obviously, you guys are in a different situation, since you're a clearinghouse for brand-new work. Speaking of which, we're finishing a new spot at my agency. Would you like the YouTube link or the DailyMotion one? :)

Dabitch's picture


I tend to reply to the press releases that are clearly sent in error with a single line describing what type of news we care for like: "we write about advertising campaigns, TV commercials etc", to let the PR person know that their mail was sent to the wrong target.
Then I get replies like the on I got yesterday: "Well that put me in my place didn’t it!" ... Uh, no I was just trying to be helpful. I'll stop. Sheesh.

Dabitch's picture

Top mistake this week:

Sending us a press release about your wee teeny tiny pathetic little super bowl ads collection saying "your readers may find this interesting". Holy crap - get with it people! Check out the site you are soliciting first how hard can it be?

Toste's picture

That's pretty insulting. Could you make a list of the companies that do this so I know which ones to avoid?

makethelogobigger's picture

I think I've ranted about each one of these at some point, cool to see them all in one place.

#3 is one where I’ll say I prefer a link because I get huge clips from people sometimes, then I have to spend time uploading their stuff? No way. That’s what their interns are for.

Sometimes I embed clips but I don't like to make a habit of it. And the times I do want them to send a link, they don't. (Happens ALL the time.)

#7 is as long as any PR release should be. Short and sweet. “Here's the story. Hope you dig it. Here’s a link.”

Fucking DONE. If I dig it, I’ll find my own way into the story and blog about it. I don’t need the massive 10-page rational on why the PR agency thinks it’s cool.

#9a Just because the AE and the AD on the project viewed the clip, it is not viral until, oh, A MILLION OTHER PEOPLE PASS IT AROUND AND IT’S ALL THEY CAN TALK ABOUT.

#10 Also, see that thing on the main page? It’s called a name. Try using it. (It’s right by my email address.) I checked my birth certificate and FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE doesn’t seem to be on it anywhere.

#11 The move where I respond to whoever sent #1 and politely tell them thanks, but it’s something that wouldn’t be right for the blog, and they send me two more follow-ups ignoring the fact that I said I can’t use it.

adlib's picture

So basically PR peope do this:

1: Send huge clips to people who want a link.

2: Send links to an advertising archive that obviously, using a tiny amount of common sense, wants huge clips. 

They're dumber than I thought. Don't they even spend two minutes at each blog that they send stuff to? 

Dabitch's picture

Aye, and they call everyone FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, which in the case of makethelogobigger or adrants is just extra silly beacuse they both have their names prominently visible on the front page of their respective blogs (Steve even has his name in the title).

Over here names are harder to find but I actually prefer being called by my username. In one single word, like I write it, not two words, which too many people do. Uncool.

tod.brody's picture

For me, a good publicist is worth their weight in gold, and a bad one
isn't worth squat. I depend on a publicist's personal relationships, so
one who uses the shotgun method of sending the same FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
e-mail to zillions of people is worthless.  On the other hand, top
publicists are extremely expensive in Hollywood, and not every project
can afford one.  And in our world, it's really only important to
get press in Variety or The Hollywood Reporter
Once it's there, all the blogs and movie websites will pick up on
it.  And then of course, there's that well of misinformation, imdb!

Dabitch's picture

Wait wait! I just found the best one so far in the hostbox.

1) Sent to hostmaster as BCC thus ending up in spambox. Check.
2) Attached the press release as a .doc. Check.

The email read (in full):
subject: Persbericht: 'Bord weer op schoot'
email: Zie bijlage.
attachment: persbericht.doc

No I'm serious! It told me fuckall about what to expect in Dutch to boot. Amazing! Yiha!

mydogmel's picture

this is a very whiny piece.

Dabitch's picture

Yathink? I reckon it's more in this neighborhood. ----> rant.

kamari's picture

mydogmel says they work in "Public Relations", so mydogmel, you've never applied the shotgun technique when sending press releases to websites? Good for you, and keep up the good work, because the key to good PR is knowing how to pitch different people and places. Another bright idea is to not insult the hostess that commands the worlds advertising people eyeballs.

AnonymousCoward2's picture

Mydogmel works in PR.

AnonymousCoward's picture

Mydogmel is mydogmorononic.