If there's one thing that PR students should be taught in school, it's this: Read the press release before you send it out. Because once you hit "send," that error that makes you look like an idiot is guaranteed to end up in the paper. There are no takebacks in PR.
Witness what happened last week to Greenpeace in Pennsylvania, when the group was drumming up press coverage for its protest of President Bush's visit to a local nuclear power plant.
We're not sure whether the nonprofit - friend of whales and enemy of, well, nuclear power plants - gets PR talent inferior to that of corporations that surely pay better, but the group's press release was less than all-pro.
As (inevitably) reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the release advised (and we quote exactly): "In the 20 years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]."
How about this? "In the last 20 years, there have been nearly 4,000 firings of low-level PR staffers for sending out press releases with insipid jokes into the clawing hands of the hungry media hordes, who promptly and gleefully shredded the reputations of the staffers and their organizations in the most public fashion possible."
It's only a matter of time, of course, until PR pros start putting these mistakes into their press releases as a matter of course, just to get journalists to read them. But until then, [INSERT BIASED SLANDEROUS JOKE HERE. CHUCKLE].
3. On the right track