Do you SPAM journalists with your technical press releases?

Technical press releases, Technical PR, Engineering PR, Industrial PR, Manufacturing PRSPAM is a thorny issue, it’s a debate so heated that it has been legislated for in both the US and Europe (under the CANSpam and Electronic Communications Act respectively). I’m certain that most of my readers would apply the rules laid out in the relevant guidelines in their e-mail marketing campaigns but how many of you are certain that your technical press releases are distributed in a compliant manner?

And how many of you are certain that your releases are distributed in a compliant, fair and ethical manner?

The debate has recently been raised by RealWire, a company that provides news release distribution (that is to say, PR companies and in-house PROs use them to issue press releases and construct lists of journalists). There is an interesting article about it here; they are calling it the Inconvenient PR truth campaign.

The good news is that, providing you are using a professional PR company that has been set up for any length of time, the press releases they are issuing on your behalf will be legal. But the question RealWire are raising is, ‘are they being sent to the right journalists, or are they effectively being sent out as SPAM to journalists that will never be interested?’

RealWire have created a series of measures that they believe industry can apply to reduce the extent to which this is a problem across the industry generally. However, I imagine you are probably more interested in how you can stop it being a problem for your company specifically.

So, here are my own suggestions, if you apply all of these you will probably be able to avoid the problem completely:

1, Ask to see a list of the magazines and Web sites to which each press release is sent: If there are any on there that aren’t relevant, then ask the agency to remove them. The agency should know the media better than you but everyone is human. I knew a PR once who thought that the electrical press and the electronics media were the same bunch of people. And he had been in the industry for about fifteen years at the time.

2, Make sure you brief the agency properly in the first place: Again, they should know your product line quite well already, but if they don’t or if you are working with a new member of staff, perhaps you need to let them know the difference in target audience between a power resistor and a surface mount resistor. This will help the PRO choose the magazines to issue the release to much more carefully.

3, Measure quality, not quantity: If your evaluation method says that a year that got 100 clippings is better than a year that got 99 clippings you are encouraging your agency to send your press releases to as many journalists as possible. However, if you believe that one piece of coverage in the right place is worth ten in the wrong place, this is what they will seek to deliver.

It’s my feeling that if you follow these guidelines, or have an agency that you can really trust to follow them for you, you will be legal, ethical and fair. Then the whole thorny issue of SPAM will go away completely.

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Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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