Perhaps digging is on my mind since we’ve just come through two blizzards in just as many weeks. But “digging a little deeper” is a theme that’s followed me around this week. I’ve spent much of my time this week searching for potential interviewees and new sources for magazine articles I’m writing and I am – what are the words I’m looking for…. saddened? disheartened?  frustrated? – by the quality of press releases distributed by the AV industry.

Many of them read like a glorified equipment list:
(Integrator name), the leader in (audiovisual systems design/digital signage/or some other long, bloated descriptor here) has designed and installed (quantity) (brand and product) to provide unparalleled (sound or video) to (venue name). (Integrator name) installed (product name), (product name), (product name), and (product name) in the (venue name)’s conference room to better create a flexible, multipurpose meeting space. (Client name), president of (venue name), says “We’re really happy with our AV system. It is exactly what we were looking for.”

As someone who may not know much about the company, you know what that tells me? Nothing. There is a distinct lack of context. It tells me nothing about why the system was chosen, how or why it was the right fit for the venue, or why that particular integration firm was the right company to do the job. It also doesn’t answer the biggest question of all: Why should anyone care about this piece of news?

As someone who has to write these press releases for clients sometimes, I’m guilty of pumping out the above fill-in-the-blank blandness too. (So I’m also pointing the finger at myself to dig a little deeper as well.) Sometimes there really is no story beyond a glorified equipment list, sometimes the writer is just being lazy, and sometimes there is an organizational emphasis on quantity (we must issue X number of releases a month!) rather than an emphasis on quality.
But guess what? We all need to try harder because the traditional venues for press release and news distribution are getting smaller. The monthly AV trade mags are literally shrinking in the number of printed pages so there is much less room for releases at a time when companies are investing more money into marketing and PR. Those who do dig a little deeper into the story will win page space.