Beyond PR

Mar 31, 2011

Press Releases Are No Joke on April Fools’ Day

Find a more recent post on the topic of how PR Newswire handles April Fools’ Day press releases here.

Friday is April Fools’ Day. And although it may be fine to prank your friends and family on April 1st, press releases are not a laughing matter.

One of the key roles of a well-written news release is to build your organization’s credibility by sharing accurate information with the media and public. Providing valuable information helps set you apart as an expert in your field.

Subsequently, when a fake press release is sent to the media, you put this credibility at risk.

From a media relations and journalist’s perspective, hoaxes create a host of problems.

“While the issuer of a fake release may think it’s funny, it’s no laughing matter for the reporter on the other end who’s under deadline. Running a story based on a fake release is not only a waste of their time but it can have dire consequences, especially when it’s market moving news,” advises Brett Simon, Manager, Media Relations at PR Newswire.

Around this time of year, the media are always on the lookout for fake releases. However, if a media point is fooled by too subtle of a joke and reports on it as legitimate news, their credibility is not only damaged, but their perception of you as a trusted source may be permanently ruined.

Fake press releases for publicly traded companies are especially inappropriate – and can even lead to criminal investigations – because of their potential to impact the markets. There are stringent regulations set forth by Congress, the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and other major exchanges about material news and publicly traded companies must always be in compliance with these rules.

“I remember there were a few fake releases around the same time last year. Once discovered, our reporters investigated the bogus releases by following up with the companies and by trying to find the perpetrator,” recalls an editor at one of the financial wires who asked to remain unnamed.

Finally, there’s the danger of annoying – or worse, offending – your readers if they don’t find the humor in your gag. By making light of a serious issue, you could end up alienating consumers and other audience members from your brand.

Because these risks far outweigh the benefits, PR Newswire will not knowingly distribute a news release that is a hoax or prank.

The media look to PR Newswire as a trustworthy source of legitimate news and such releases run the risk of seriously damaging this credibility.

Amusing though they may be, parodies and hoax releases are not appropriate for the public wire.  And that’s no joke.

Author Amanda Hicken is a senior editor at PR Newswire.  In her free time, she pens the Clue Into Cleveland blog.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Mykl Roventine

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