I am allergic to press releases, or anything that shouts, “I am a press release”, which makes for 99.9 % of press releases. What also gets my capillaries bursting is calls from PR companies that start with, “I wanted to talk to you regarding my client XYZ ….who will be …..” Or this one: “We have sent you an invite for the launch of ___(random product or event) on ___ at ____which will be attended by ___ (list of random C-list celebrities). Will you be coming?”
Of course I won’t be coming. I have a life. I mean, give me a break. The least you can do is come up with a better opening line. But I guess lazy journalists will take anything that comes their way, which means PR companies will never go out of business — it’s a symbiotic relationship.
At the start of my career as an advertising copywriter, there was the era of the un-ad ad. There were a whole bunch of creative directors who constantly reminded us that the reader unfolds the paper to read news and features, not ads. Our competition therefore, was editorial content, not other ads. That was the honeymoon period for copywriters who dug body copy, like I did. Then the television boom happened and everything was about 30-second quickies. There was no room for print, and if at all, it was about, “We have to do a 100 cc ad. It has to include the client’s bio-data, his ex-wife’s photo, his dog’s name somewhere in the copy, his mission statement, his brother’s company’s logo and baseline and….”
I quit. I became a journalist.
Some days ago, I received this in my inbox. I would have blindly deleted it, just as I do every press release I routinely get, when the subject line made me stop for a second. It said ‘W.A.L.S: Women Against Lazy Stubble’, and I figured it could work as fodder for my column. (No prizes for guessing it was from a shaving products company). Now, forget the fact that I like my men with a bit of stubble and I am the one always asking the husband to go easy on the buzzing; it’s well, just more textural and if you may, alpha male. It briefly read:
For centuries women have spent hours grooming themselves to please men but that is changing. Women are now taking a strong stand against LAZY MEN AND THEIR LAZY STUBBLE. W.A.L.S is a movement that brings together all like-minded women who believe that it is about time men made a little effort to groom themselves and sport a cleaner and more confident look. Why should only the women make that effort? The founders of this movement are a group of young women who believe that EQUALITY should exist in all walks of life – including self-hygiene and grooming.
It went on..
“We would invite celebrities like Malaika Arora, Neha Dhupia and Mugdha Godse to be a part of an EXCLUSIVE story with your publication, where they can share their thoughts on topics such as….. and instances in their life where stubble proved to be trouble (with friends, husband, father, brother boyfriend, etc.)
I do hope there is an era of the un-press release press release. Meanwhile I can offer my services to PR companies looking to write them.