Would you add your name to a crap press release?
Here is a theoretical situation:
You’ve just written a press release. You send it to the client for their approval. They come back with a lot of changes, most of which are awful. The quote has clearly been written by a machine, they’ve inserted lots of acronyms, even more plenty of hyperbole and it just doesn’t read well. In short, it’s been butchered and no journalist in their right mind would touch it.
Naturally you contact your client to advise that in your experience journalists prefer more factual information with a specific angle in their niche, and they want quotes which wouldn’t sound out of place in a normal conversation. However, the client is insistent they want the one their legal department has already approved.
Typically, this isn’t really a major problem. Your client pays the bills and if they want a rubbish press release and disregard your advice, that’s their problem. So you begin distributing it via e-mail, newswires and free distribution sites. Any interested press can contact you on the details listed in the release.
So what happens when you’re applying for a job and your future employer does a quick Google check on you. Perhaps ["Your name" and "agency"] or [Your Name + Press Release] – everyone should try that last one. It’s easy to see where this is going. That press release could haunt you for every single job you apply for, ever. I think this could be a bigger problem than any drunken MySpace/Facebook photos.
Anyone have a good solution to this problem? Do you tell the client you’re not going to put your name on it? What would be the ramifications of that?
I think this could be a bigger problem than it is. I’m still worried by some of my earliest press releases.
A freelance writer once told me it’s common to look back on what you wrote five years ago and cringe, it’s a bigger problem if you don’t. I’m not so sure that’s true in the internet age.