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Chriss Scherer Scherer has been the editor of Radio magazine since 1997. His experience in radio includes work as chief engineer at stations in Cleveland (WMMS-FM, WHK-AM, WZJM-FM, WJMO-AM...more

Archive for April, 2010

Annoying Press Releases

One more thought from yesterday’s note about fact-free press releases:

I tell companies to send releases to me. I encourage them to send information to me. We don’t use all of them, and sometimes a release spurs an idea for something more useful to you as a reader.

Then there’s the absurd approach. I have received at least 10 messages from one company about one new product. This is not the same release coming to me in 10 different ways, this is 10 different versions of the same information. OK, I get it. Thanks.

Just part of the filtering we do at Radio magazine and RadioMagOnline.com.

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Fact-free Press Releases

The 2010 NAB Show is days away. My e-mail box is full of information from exhibitors. It’s a mix of great, good and useless information.

The great
We cover the technology of radio broadcasting. You already know that. When I receive information about new products, product updates, significant transactions, new installations, company appointments and similar information, we share it with you right away. That’s a big part of what we do. We process information for you so you can do your job better.

The good
I also get plenty of material that has relevance, but it tends to serve the manufacturer’s interests more than anyone else’s. Quite often I have to do more legwork and get the real meat from these items. The fact that a company is exhibiting at a convention is nice to know, but there has to be more to it. Begging for both visitors does no one any good.

The useless
Then there are the releases that say absolutely nothing. I think these releases are written for the company CEO so he can feel good about himself, or they are written for potential investors who want to read a series of buzz words that have no substance, or they are written by a PR person who was given no real information in the first place but was told to issue a press release. (There’s an art to issuing a press release that says nothing but appears to be loaded with great information.) I call the useless releases fact-free press releases. They say nothing. They often say nothing but still use 1,000 words to do it.

Here’s a great example I just received:
“[The company] will use its industry skills to form a product offering that will give value to the customer, while keeping stringent control over quality. [The company] aims to introducing higher end features into a cost effective range of products for the broadcast media market. This is great news for the end-users as they have gone through a torrid financial crisis and have been forced to trim the organizational fat. [The company] has done this from the beginning! And [company] will endeavor to bring in new business ideas to keep overheads at a minimum while giving fantastic value.”

The release goes on and about how this manufacturer will develop new products that help the bottom line, but there is no mention about what these products might do.

And my final peave? The exhibitors who spam the news media list with releases. Do you think I need to know about the newest $20,000 camera lens?

Lucky for you, these types of releases never make it to RadioMagOnline.com or the pages of Radio magazine.

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Kill an Idea Before it Grows

I’m watching a discussion thread on one of the many e-mail lists I monitor. This thread is about adding FM receivers to cell phones and distributing emergency alerts to mobile devices. Part of this discussion includes using RBDS (such as GSS Alert FM or Via Radio) to distribute the emergency messages.

There are some good ideas being posted, but there are many more comments stating that it’s all a bad idea:

  • “Listeners may not want to receive alerts on their devices”
  • “How will the FM receiver know to listen to the right channel to get the alert?”
  • “Phone users will complain about their Ipod or phone switching when they don’t want it to.”

    While these are valid concerns for a final implementation, it seems the idea is being killed before it even has a chance to be explored. By all means, let’s ignore technology improvements and by no means implement them for the greater good. Let’s leave radio exactly the way it was in 1948!

    Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

    First rule of brainstorming: There are no bad ideas. Accept everything and then put them together. Design a system and then consider the drawbacks. Then alter the solution to address the perceived shortcoming.

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