A PR Tactic The Media Won’t Buy – So Don’t Even Try


There is a tactic PR agencies and corporate PR departments have been using for years to try to pull the wool over the eyes of the news media in hopes of enticing the media to cover an event. The tactic doesn’t work, never has worked and is viewed by news personnel with a combination of amusement and irritation. I call this tactic the ‘Let’s not tell ’em’ trick.

The ‘Let’s not tell ’em’ trick is when media outlets receive a letter, email, or faxed news release touting an event of ‘major importance’ but gives no details. Such a news release looks something like this:

Urgent!

Major News Announcement

Friday, June 24, 2pm More details please visit:-laksegutta.no zoom8.no husnesnett.no iotech.no elektronikkshop.no gofot.no tipsshop.no

Cisco Corporation

234 Atlantic Avenue

No Details Will Be Given Until Time of Announcement

RSVP by 9am June 24

This PR tactic has so many downsides that the headline might as well read ‘Do Not Cover This Event’. First, the PR agency has labeled this as a major news announcement. Really? Says who? I remember receiving such an announcement one morning. Later that day, two young men in trench coats and armed to the teeth turned Columbine High School in Littleton, CO into a killing field. What the company touted as a major announcement was completely ignored on that day. It’s best to let the news media decide what is major news and what’s not.

Secondly, the news media, especially television, would never show up blindly at an event without knowing what the announcement would be. Someone should have informed the writer of the news release that a television station is not going to commit a reporter, photographer, station vehicle and a tape editor to an event without being told what the event is. Finally, the news media is under no obligation to RSVP and inform the company whether or not they’re coming.

Be assured that within one hour of receiving such a news release, the news media will know what the major super secret announcement is. All it takes is a few phone calls. The radio station or newspaper in the community where the big event is happening usually has their ear to the ground and they usually know. Then there’s the call to the local bar or grocery store where someone always knows something. Secrets are hard to keep in a small town.

The bottom line is don’t try this tactic. Instead, your approach should be to not only tell the media what the announcement will be, but why it is of such importance that it deserves coverage. Remember, most ‘major’ announcements are major only to the company making it. For the most part, no one else cares.


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