Press releases are not marketing guff Article icon


When is a press release not a press release? When it is marketing guff about a public relations agency wrapped around a compliment from a client. And who is the perpetrator of such a heinous crime, sent with that old journalist favourite: high importance? (Translation: self importance.) Step forward Bristol-based strategic communications and engagement consultancy JBP Associates.

This week, having completed a two-year assignment supporting National Grid as it refurbished power lines in Devon and Cornwall, the agency decided to celebrate. Most people would choose to do so by raising a customary glass or two in the local hostelry, but JBP opted instead to issue a press release detailing the work it had done – ‘one of the most complex communications projects we have undertaken in our 30 year history’. Goodness me.

There follows a long list of the work undertaken, including two paragraphs which pretty much say the same thing in different ways. Everything it seems went swimmingly, and it was all due to JBP’s ‘skills, experience and applications of the latest innovative techniques in stakeholder engagement’. You guys! You even found time to deliver ‘school education sessions at five schools’. (I think they mean lessons.)

And after a headline that promised ‘National Grid praise for top South West public relations firm’, there it was in the final par. The South West regional external affairs manager for National Grid complimented the agency on a job well done.

In other words, the agency did the work for which it was paid and the client was pleased. A story replicated across the PR industry on a daily basis, I would imagine, without anybody feeling the need to send a press release about such a non-news event. Dear God, let this not be the beginning of a trend. I have resisted the urge to call the number for ‘further press information’. I have quite enough already.