How I Came to Appreciate Press Releases

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Press releases arrive in my old Gmail inbox every day. It all started during my first freelancing year, and to this day I still receive all kinds of unsolicited messages on all kinds of topics from men’s fashion to health news. I received so many of these emails that I eventually started a new email, one that would not be inundated with press releases day after day. I still use that new account, but even it hasn’t been safe from the PR demon.

In the journalism world, there’s some stigma around PR. It’s been said that you go into public relations when you can’t hack it as a journalist. But from an employment perspective it’s not hard to understand why. There are exponentially more jobs in PR than there are in the news media, and it pays better. Many fine journalists have departed from our ranks to join “the dark side.” Say it ain’t so!

I have over 2400 unread emails in my old Gmail, and almost all of them are press releases which I never asked for, and will never end up reading. There is no way of keeping up with the constant tide. Every now and then I’ll open one up if the subject line sounds interesting, or if I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Most often they end up being a total waste of time, but sometimes, just sometimes, the seed for a great story idea can be found. Sometimes you can find invites to industry events and tradeshows which could turn out to be amazing networking opportunities that lead to my next big client.

Over the past month, that’s exactly what happened. I managed to obtain media credentials to an upcoming business and entrepreneurship tradeshow at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in March. I also came across a release about the efficacy of boycotting, and that gave me an idea for a story. I still need to find a publisher, but it’s no less an interesting subject to cover. I would have never come across these things if not for the press releases. It seems I owe someone a debt of gratitude.

That is the relationship between PR and the media. They tell us what’s going on; we filter through it and find the diamonds in the rough. I may have been annoyed with the sheer volume of unsolicited emails arriving in my old Gmail, but now I have come to appreciate them. Who knows how many great story ideas and event invitations I may have missed by letting them pile up unread for so long? Moving forward,  I won’t let fresh ideas and opportunities pass me by again.


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