Last week I saw a social media post congratulation someone for getting booked on David Letterman. I knew a little bit about the supposed guest-to-be so I clicked on the press release – which was sent out on the wire.
If you read the release carefully, it doesn’t say anywhere that this guy is actually appearing on David Letterman. In fact, it doesn’t say he’s even booked on David Letterman, which would be enough of a faux pas. Instead the worthy news item is this (verbatim):
“L.A. Nik, a man wealthy with friends and relationships, was introduced by longtime friend Barry ZeVan, the infamous television weatherman (now President and CEO of The ZeVan Corporation, a PR and Communications consultancy) to the segment producer at LATE NIGHT.”
Maybe the guy is booked on David Letterman and it’s just a poorly written release. But to me, since it’s titled “Guy in talks with David Letterman” it looks like they’re basically touting the fact that he was introduced to a producer at Late Night. SIGH.
I guess this is a good opportunity to review some basic rules of press releases. Feel free to add some of your own.
1. Unless it’s an event notice, it’s not news until AFTER it happens. So don’t ever write a full release that says “hey, we’re going to be on a show.” Write the release the day it airs and say “hey we were on the show”.
2. Don’t act like a star-struck rookie when you first start talking to the biggies. This will knock you out of the running pretty fast. You really need to stay cool and wait for whatever it is to happen. Because if it doesn’t (and it usually doesn’t, not in the beginning) you will look like an idiot. If I’m in talks with someone at a show, the last thing I will do is send a press release about it.
3. If you do get booked don’t steal the show’s thunder by talking about it way ahead of time. There’s a reason all those reality show folks sign a non-disclosure with heavy penalties if they share information before the air date. It’s great to promote your appearance via social media, blog posts, etc as it draws close. A short media alert sent to your connections a few days before the event is fine too. Keep it short. Just that you’re appearing on the show and everyone should watch.
4. I am old enough to remember Barry Zevan the weatherman. But hardly anyone else is. Don’t talk about people who are not famous as though they’re famous. We’re pleased you have good connections. Again, it’s not a reason to send a press release.
I hope this guy does get on the show and I don’t mean to be a hater. It was just such a great example I couldn’t resist.
If you’d like help writing YOUR press releases, click here.