Ah, the exuberance. We all crave attention, and in business, attention means dollars. Hence the millions of press releases that go out each year. But is there no way to send them a little more intelligently?

PARADE is a weekly Sunday supplement that goes to 40 million households. Once or twice a year, I get to write for it and so have somehow been designated by the Mailing List People to be PARADE’s business editor.

Those of you who see PARADE may agree with me that it’s excellent — far better than the gossipy recipe sheet one might expect. But it has no “business department.”

Nonetheless, I get small boatloads of press releases, virtually none of which could possibly, conceivably, be of even the remotest interest to PARADE.

I have tried in years past to get off some of these lists, but it’s impossible. Public relations people feel they have achieved something by getting their press releases into the maximum number of mail rooms.

You never know (they must figure) — perhaps PARADE will break with its normal format and run a story on this item, which I believe qualifies as the dumbest press release I got in all of 1996. It seems that TV station WTXF, the Fox affiliate in Philadelphia, has acquired a new helicopter, complete with a gyro-stabilized camera. The station plans to concentrate its use of this new equipment on traffic news. The GyroCam has “a Fujinon 36x zoom lens with a 2x extender (yielding an equivalent zoom ration [sic] of 72:1).”

Now there’s something PARADE might want to do a story on. And if not PARADE, surely Reader’s Digest, Seventeen, Rolling Stone, or Prevention, along with the hundreds of others to whom this no doubt was sent. How about The Harvard Business Review or Sports Illustrated?

“For Immediate Release.” What could these people possibly be thinking?

(To learn more about the lens ratio, or perhaps to schedule an interview with the pilot, contact Sharla or Lisa at 215-627-0801.)

Tomorrow: The Stupidest Thing I Ever Did



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