Quotes on releases

What writers & others say

Quotes on releases

“Every couple of years the press release is declared dead, and today we’re thrilled to announce it’s not dead again or even sick but more alive than ever.” — Betsy Kosheff, a veteran tech PR person and independent PR consultant in Boston. Image by Flood G.

“We’re about to announce [the press release] is Old World technology that relates to a different type of media. The world is filled with too much information, and too much of it is wrong or irrelevant.”
— Matthew Bishop, business editor and New York bureau chief, The Economist

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.”
— Daniel J. Boorstin, American social historian and educator

“Hired a new executive? Write a press release. Painted a wall in your office? Duh — press release, everyone is going to want to hear about that. Shipped a teeny tiny feature? To the press release we go!”
— Katie Burke, head of analyst and media relations at HubSpot

“Don’t expect to hyperbolize your way to press coverage; if anything, the most absurd superlatives are often deleted the fastest.”
— Katie Burke, head of analyst and media relations at HubSpot

“In many ways, the world of PR has become a lot like the world of marketing automation: regardless of your question, one tactic is always the answer. Write a press release.”
— Katie Burke, head of analyst and media relations at HubSpot

“Reporters, like the rest of us humans, prefer to do business with people who are smart, funny, and perhaps a tad self-deprecating — so act accordingly.”
— Katie Burke, head of analyst and media relations at HubSpot

“Barneyware: The purple dinosaur may have faded from the scene, but his legacy lives on. Barneyware is anything that has little or no substance. Example: A joint press release by two companies that have nothing new to announce, but in order to generate media attention declare their mutual admiration for each other. In effect, the release says nothing more than ‘I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family.’”
— BuzzWhack

“There’s too much time spent trying to bamboozle us with flowery marketing-babble instead of cutting to the chase and saying just why this should be important to readers.”
— Charles Cooper of Ziff Davis in a Softletter survey of media about the quality of PR writing

“If you (or your client) can’t articulate why your technology really is interesting or matters to normal human beings without graduate degrees in computer science, there is no reason for that product to exist, let alone get coverage.”
— Barb Darrow, senior writer at GigaOm

“I get calls from PR groups who can’t even pronounce the company name much less discuss the technology.”
— Alexis dePlanque, META Group

“Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die! Die!”
— Tom Foremski, former Financial Times reporter who covers Silicon Valley business trends

“Press releases are nearly useless. They typically start with a tremendous amount of top-spin, they contain pat-on-the-back phrases and meaningless quotes. Often they will contain quotes from C-level executives praising their customer focus. They often contain praise from analysts, (who are almost always paid or have a customer relationship.) And so on…
“Press releases are created by committees, edited by lawyers, and then sent out at great expense through Businesswire or PRnewswire to reach the digital and physical trash bins of tens of thousands of journalists.
“This madness has to end. It is wasted time and effort by hundreds of thousands of professionals.”
— Tom Foremski, former Financial Times reporter who covers Silicon Valley business trends

“Most quotes in press releases sound like the teacher in Charlie Brown cartoons: ‘Wah wah wah wah.’”
— A frustrated PR pro

“Organizations write press releases for themselves, not for readers.”
— A frustrated PR pro

“If I only had two dollars left I would spend one dollar on PR.”
— Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft

“BS is always BS.”
— Antone Gonsalves, journalist for Ziff-Davis

“Be fair. Don’t stretch the truth or tell half-truths. When words such as ‘first,’ ‘best,’ ‘biggest’ or ‘only’ are used, there better be supportive explanations.”
— Journalist in the 17th Annual Bennett & Company Media Survey

“Every couple of years the press release is declared dead, and today we’re thrilled to announce it’s not dead again or even sick but more alive than ever.”
— Betsy Kosheff, a veteran tech PR person and independent PR consultant in Boston

“When I was a reporter at Newsweek, I received literally thousands of press releases via email — and I deleted almost every single one of them without even opening them.”
— Dan Lyons, marketing fellow at HubSpot, former tech editor at Newsweek, tech columnist at Forbes, and creator of “Fake Steve Jobs”

“I receive dozens of pitches every week on new gadgets, websites and web services. Each reads pretty much the same way. The e-mail starts with ‘Hi Amber, I hope this finds you well’ followed by four or five paragraphs that are copied and pasted from a traditional press release. These all end up in my trash.”
— Amber MacArthur, technology reporter

“A public relations firm said that rock star David Lee Roth owes them over $110,000. The strange thing is that it’s the first time that David Lee Roth has had any publicity in ten years.”
— Conan O’Brien, talk show host

“Stop the BS and hype. I don’t want to hear that the XYZ company, ‘Leader in the field of fisbies’ has announced a revolutionary new computer … with no data, no insight, no competitive data, just BS, time-wasting words. Do you PR people really think we’re going to either be influenced by that or, worse yet, print it?”
— Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Associates, interviewed by Softletter.com

“Every once in a while I’ll sit down with a jug of Jack Daniels and a bottle of Advil and dig through old press releases to see if PR agencies have learned how to write.”
— Mark Ragan, president, Ragan Communications

“Bad writing among PR agencies is the one thing in this world we can count on. Ice caps may melt. Sunnis and Shia may one day make peace. But PR agencies will continue to bill their hapless clients for thousands of press releases that no one on the planet could possibly comprehend.”
— Mark Ragan, president, Ragan Communications

“PR writing is so horribly consistent — or consistently horrible — that agencies even have a template for it.”
— Mark Ragan, president, Ragan Communications

“None of the kids hired by the agencies and billed out at $150 an hour have the slightest idea what they’re writing about. They don’t understand the product or the client. They have no background in the industry, and they never learned how to write in college.”
— Mark Ragan, president, Ragan Communications

“Why do corporations continue to hire these agencies? Why do they continue to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on releases that no reporter will ever read, no media outlet will ever pick up?”
— Mark Ragan, president, Ragan Communications

“Because your name’s not Barack Obama, that’s why.”
— the reason you’re not putting your VP’s name in the headline of a press release, with apologies to Peter Shankman, founder of Help a Reporter Out

“Occasionally, PR people simply need to grow a pair at the risk of offending the client or executive for the greater good of the company. Let’s face it, painting the conference room is not ‘news,’ nor is ‘new person hired for second eastern region assistant sales position.’ News is news that matters to more than your company. It’s information that’s beneficial to an industry or a whole host of readers. If your client has that kind of news, pitch your heart out. But if not, sometimes the best thing you can do to save your clients’ (and your) reputation, is to say no.”
— Peter Shankman, HARO (Help a Reporter Out) founder

“Companies can increase the likelihood of their press releases being used by bloggers and local news sources by giving them a more news-like tone and dialing down the marketing hype.”
— Adam Sherk, blogger

“What I really like about a (press release) is when it scratches my reader’s itch and not your client’s itch.”
— A trade journal editor quoted in Public Relations Tactics

“The biggest mistake people make when it comes to PR is doing exactly what everyone else does: boring press releases, robotic executive briefings, and dry advertising and campaigns. At the end of the day, reporters live for a great story they can share, and that starts with a unique perspective, a new angle on an old story, or a scoop no one else has.”
— Howard Wolfson, deputy mayor of New York City

Free writing tips
  • Get tips, tricks & trends for Catching Your Readers
  • Learn to write better, easier & faster
  • Discover proven-in-the-lab writing techniques