radio-tv-host-critiques-our-press-release-the-pr-group-clearwater-flThe PR Group has been successfully writing and submitting press releases to the media for many years. We’ve apparently gotten so good at it that a few other PR agencies and organizations, (including the world’s largest newswire service), have decided to use them as examples for training their own copywriters. Obviously, we’re flattered. This shows that, if nothing else, if you take enough swings you’re bound to make contact with the ball a few times.

Below is an example of a release we issued about 10 years ago which is being used as a training aide by former radio host and TV news anchor-turned-PR-consultant-and-author, George McKenzie. It was faxed to the radio station where George had a show at the time. This interview sheet was tremendously successful, resulting in many hundreds of interviews for our client, boosting both sales of his book and sales of a nutritional supplement he formulated.

George did a good job of dissecting the press release. If you’re interested in what goes through the mind of an actual TV/radio host when he scans a release, read on.

We found George’s comments at Press Release Success .

Following George’s commentary, our company’s Creative Director and author of the release, Steve Town, makes a few comments of his own.

——————————————————————————-
A Press Release Example
Critique by George McKenzie
Former TV News Anchor and Radio Talk Show Host

The press release example below arrived via fax at a San Antonio radio station where I hosted a talk show called “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.” The intent of the release was to book the author of a book for an interview.

First, a transcript of the release itself, followed by my critique.

————-start of press release————–

Good Fats, Bad Fats

Dr. Udo Erasmus discusses The Low Fat Conspiracy:
Has Madison avenue created a health crisis in America

We’ve all heard these familiar expressions:

“Low fat is healthier”
“Fatty foods clog your arteries”
“Use margarine instead of butter”
“Cut out oil to lose weight”

Sensible dietary maxims, right?

“Wrong!” says North America’s leading expert on fats and oils.

According to Dr. Udo Erasmus, author of Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill, these so-called “sensible dietary maxims” come not from the science of nutrition, but from high paid advertising execs on Madison Ave.

Madison Avenue’s “War on Fat” is being waged to improve corporate profits, not health.

“The giant food makers know that low fat foods have much longer shelf lives than fatty foods,” says Dr. Erasmus. “So they’ve hired high-powered advertisers to create “fat phobia” in the minds of consumers – and they’ve succeeded.”

According to Dr. Erasmus, studies have proven that low fat diets do not improve health. One recent study proved that people who switched from butter to margarine had twice as many heart attacks.

“Fresh fats and oils are an essential part of a healthy diet,” says Dr. Erasmus. “They should never be damaged or removed.”

Dr. Erasmus says that the “War on Fat” has stripped America’s food supply of vital nutrients called “essential fatty acids – triggering a variety of degenerative diseases including heart attacks, strokes, cancer and diabetes.

Children’s health is another casualty in the “war on fat.”

Children raised on diets without essential fatty acids are more likely to be sick – and they frequently manifest behavioral problems and learning disabilities.”

“After years of ‘low-fat propaganda,’ fatty acid deficiency has become the number one nutritional (next line cut off by fax machine)

Is fatty acid deficiency correctable?

“Yes,” says Dr. Erasmus. “but you have to stop listening to all this “low-fat” hype and start eating properly prepared food containing essential fats and oils.”

To ensure adequate fatty acid intake, Dr. Erasmus recommends drinking one or two tablespoons of fresh seed oil made to his specifications by (company name), called “Udo’s Choice Oil,” which can be found in health stores nationwide or by calling (number).

“Don’t be a victim of “fat phobia”, encourages Dr. Erasmus. Stay healthy by eating lots of fresh, properly prepared foods rich in essential fats and oils.

A list of foods supplying essential fatty acids can be found in Dr. Erasmus’ book, Fats That Heal – Fats that Kill.

Sample Interview Questions

1. Why do most Americans think that “low fat is healthier”?
2. Why is it more profitable for food processors to sell low-fat foods?
3. Is margarine healthier than butter?
4. What diseases are linked to low-fat and no-fat diets?
5. What are “essential fatty acids” and why are they “essential”?
6. Why does lack of fat and oil cause heart disease?
7. How are behavioral disorders linked to nonfat diets?
8. What foods contain the essential fatty acids?
9. What supplements are available to adequate intake of essential fatty acids?

The Book Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill has been hailed as “the first book to make sense out of the role of fats in health” (Richard Kunin, MD – President, Society for Orthomolecular Medicine)

About Dr. Erasmus

Udo Erasmus, Ph.D Nutrition, is one of America’s foremost authority on the role that dietary fats and oils play in human health. Trained in biochemistry, and genetics at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Dr. Erasmus has been an invited guest on over 800 radio and television programs. His advice on health and nutrition has

appeared in newspapers and magazines worldwide.

To schedule an interview, call (PR Firm number)

————-end of press release————–

Critique of This Press Release Example

Instant Eyeball Test:

Easy on the eyes. Uncluttered. Contact info is where it should be. Name of the PR firm is there, but it takes up little space, which will score points with news people.

Paragraphs are short, which makes it easier to scan quickly. Several sentences are written in bullet point style.

Section headlines are in bold type and centered. Again, easy to scan and compartmentalize at a glance.

Overall, this one will probably be placed aside for later review.

Headline Test:

Good headline. Uses a media catch word: “Conspiracy” in the primary headline. Implies that someone has been trying to get away with something, and that’s always good grist for the media mill.

In the sub-headline, we get details on the perpetrators of this conspiracy.

Has Madison avenue created a health crisis in America

Madison Avenue, of course, is famous for its huge, high-powered advertising agencies. There are people who live in New York City, drive fancy cars, drink three martinis at lunch, and then bombard us with untruths about products they fool us into thinking we just can’t live without. Or so the writer would have us think.

The sub-headline uses another catchword: “crisis.” There may or may not really be a crisis, but the news person will read on just in case. Besides, even if there’s no crisis, but enough people think there is, it’s worth talking about.

Newsworthiness Test:

A winner because it hits several universal news themes:

Myth-busting: the writer opens by quoting “conventional wisdom” about diet and nutrition:

“Low fat is healthier”

“Fatty foods clog your arteries”

“Use margarine instead of butter”

“Cut out oil to lose weight”

She then claims all those ideas are (excuse the expression) bologna.

Sensible dietary maxims, right? “Wrong!”

Conspiracy Theory (mentioned above): someone is trying to get away with something: in this case, it’s “Madison Avenue.” The writer elaborates a few sentences below the headline

Madison Avenue’s “war on fat” is being waged to improve corporate profits, not health.

This implies that Madison Avenue’s ‘war on fat” is not only taking money out of our pocketbooks, but it’s costing us our health as well.

Read a little further down the release, and the writer nails another universal theme:

Children’s health is another casualty in the “war on fat.”

Anything involving children has relevance.

Children raised on diets without essential fatty acids are more likely to be sick – and they frequently manifest behavioral problems and learning disabilities.

Body:

The writer offers credentials immediately after making the myth-busting claim:

says Dr. So-and So, North America’s leading expert on fats and oils.

She also continues to imply that someone’s getting rich at the public’s expense (which the media, as watchdog of the public welfare, has a duty to expose):

high paid advertising execs on Madison Ave.

Quotes:

The writer does a nice job of making them fit the tone of the release. There’s a connection to ideas and themes that have been introduced previously:

I say the writer does a nice job of this, because in all likelihood, the writer made up the quotes, took them to the doctor and said,

“Hey is it okay if I say this?”

So they’ve hired high-powered advertisers…

Yes,” says Dr. Erasmus. “but you have to stop listening to all this “low-fat” hype…

After years of ‘low-fat propaganda…

Q&A and Bio sections:

Not much to add here. They’re short, relevant, easy to pick out of the release on first glance. Just what the news person is looking for.

Medium Match:

I personally think this release would pass the test with any medium, but it’s especially suited to radio and TV talk shows.

This release was faxed to me at a radio station where I hosted a talk show, so I’m not surprised it’s “talk show friendly.” I suspect the writer may have also sent

releases written especially for TV and newspaper, but I don’t know that for sure.

Worth Mentioning:

This news release was so well constructed that it was easy to miss the purpose of the release FROM THE PR AGENCY’S POINT OF VIEW.

They want to get publicity for their client, obviously. But their client wants to sell something.

Do you know what?

If you said, the doctor wants to sell his book, you only got it half right. Guess again.

And no cheating. Don’t go back and look more closely at the release.

Okay. Here’s what the doctor is really selling—quoting from the second page of the release:

To ensure adequate fatty acid intake, Dr. Erasmus recommends drinking one or two tablespoons of fresh seed oil made to his specifications by (company name called “Udo’s Choice Oil,” which can be found in health stores nationwide or by calling (number).

The doctor is selling what, in my mind anyway, is a food supplement.

Some book sales would be nice, but I’m guessing the book is mainly a promotional vehicle for

the supplement.

Trying to promote a product like seed oil would be a tough sell to any reporter or talk show producer.

But promoting a book that warns about a “conspiracy” that affects our health, pocketbooks, and kids…well, that’s a different story.

The person who wrote this release did a masterful job of keeping any mention of the seed oil as low profile as she could.

But she did mention it, and for a good reason.

If she hadn’t written about it at all, and then the doctor started talking about it during the interview, the producer/host would have felt duped – and irritated enough that they’d remember her name next time she contacted them.

But she gave the news folks what they wanted first. She pushed all the right hot buttons in the first page and a half of the release so the fact that the doctor was selling a product probably wouldn’t have mattered.

The truth is…since most news releases are SCANNED but not READ, a lot of people might have zipped right over this paragraph and not even noticed.

Did you?

In Summary…

In my opinion, this was a extremely well done release. Yes, there were a couple of punctuation errors, including two glaring mistakes in the subheadline: the word “avenue” should have been capitalized in

Has Madison avenue created a health crisis in America

and there’s a “?” missing at the end of the sentence.

When I first read the release, I was a little put off by both these oversights, but the release had already passed the eyeball test and the headline test, so I kept reading.

I’m glad I did.

I wouldn’t hesitate to call these folks to set up an interview. They know how to play the press release “game.” They probably also know how to do “good radio.”

——————————–End of George’s comments –——————————

Steve’s comments;

1. This press release was written for radio stations. Before writing it, I spent 90 minutes interviewing the client, who recited for me dozens of clinical studies on how adding omega-3 to the diet improved various physical conditions. It wasn’t until the end of the interview that he mentioned, in passing, that taking fats out of the food supply was a decision made by food manufacturers to increase shelf life of their products at which point it was up to their advertising agencies to convince us that the fat-stripped food was better than fatty foods. The phrase “low fat conspiracy” immediately jumped into my head, and I knew then we had stumbled on a topic that would allow him to discuss more than just the health benefits of his product (his radio tour was to promote his omega-3 oil supplement, as George correctly surmised). I had to convince the client to speak on this topic, as his initial reaction was that he didn’t want to stir up any controversy or ruffle anyone’s feathers. Over the next ten years he learned that controversy makes for good radio and TV, and he participated in hundreds of media appearances using the “low fat conspiracy” angle to promoting his supplement.

2. As a point of pride we strive to send out mistake proof, uncluttered, aesthetically pleasing press releases. The punctuation errors that George noted were likely caused by a glitch in the faxing software we were using at the time, well before HTML email became the way to reach media contacts. We do apologize to him for those goofs even though they occurred years ago and are most likely protected by the statue of limitations for typographical errors.

Share This