PR Spam

17Jan10

Gather ye round younglings, for I shall tell you a tale of older, braver times. Times when the all-for-spent postal delivery person arrived daily at the offices of newspapers, magazines and telly stations burdened down by a sackload of brazen embarrassments.

The journalist’s life was once a little simpler because public relations people had to pay the price of a stamp to send you a press release. They had to think a little bit about which programmes and publications would be interested in whatever story they were peddling on behalf of their employers or clients.

Nowadays it costs nothing to send your press release by email to those journalists who might be interested in it.

And just to be on the safe side, it gets sent to everyone else as well. Some of this stuff is little better than spam.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of my best friends are in public relations. Some of them have interesting or useful stories to tell. Some of them promote the best of causes and provide clear and helpful information for reporters.

While many other PRs are sleazy, two-faced drones who peddle lies on behalf of corporate clients, infantilise our public life with trivia or sell snake-oil on behalf of charlatans.

Just saying, like.

Here are some brightly-polished turds picked from my inboxes in recent weeks.

* One headed LONELY THIS CHRISTMAS? YOUR FRIENDS CAN NOW BE BOUGHT. No, really. There’s some firm selling Facebook fans and friends to businesses who want to look popular. But now individuals can use the service to feel popular.

* Some holiday firm did a poll of which celebrities Bristolians would most like to go on holiday with. Cheryl Cole, Peter Andre, Adam Sandler and Simon Cowell, since you ask. Which you probably didn’t.

* Wedding TV (no, me neither) is launching the second series of ‘Celebrity Hens and Stags’ in which Z-listers get to organise the hen or stag parties of some undignified idiots who for some reason believe that making fools of themselves on some godawful cable channel will somehow validate their desperate, pointless lives. Danielle Lloyd (who?) is doing the Bristol one, but some lucky couple elsewhere in the country get Neil and Christine Hamilton.

* Here’s one from a firm of online solicitors. Surely there is a special place in hell reserved for the sort of hucksters who put out press releases headed: RECORD DIVORCE LEVELS EXPECTED AS CONFIDENCE RETURNS TO THE ECONOMY.

* What on earth is a corporate wellness expert? Actually no, I really don’t care. But it says here: “TOP CORPORATE WELLNESS EXPERTS LAUNCH INTENSIVE LIFESTYLE MASTERCLASS; Hunter-Gatherers in the Corporate Jungle”.

* This one probably made it into several red-tops: “Results from a series of studies conducted by free dating website ******.*** reveal that men are 7 times more likely than women to date and marry a porn star.”

[Heh! Didja see what I did there? I’m such a radical I put the firm’s name in asterisks so they wouldn’t get any more free publicity! Ain’t I a stinker?!]

Postscript: Tomorrow is officially the “most depressing day of the year”. No, really, that Monday near the end of January is the day everyone’s least happy. A proper scientist did a formula for it and everything.

Except it was all a load of cynical PR bullstuff all along. Ben Goldacre has the full, horrible story here.

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