NB: Clarification from Ash Communications follows this post (comment number 3)

Gah! Time for an anti-PR rant. I've already blathered about it... but I have to do it again. Today I received 2 press releases from Ash communications (take your place in my hall of shame - the PR Waffle catergory) splattered with useless percentages.

Take this fine piece or meaningless waffle created for their client Skiingholidays.com

Confidence is returning to the ski industry with 80 per cent of skiers who did not
ski last year planning to return to the slopes this season. Skiers are
becoming savvier in finding ways to cut costs to stay on the slopes, with
40 per cent of holidaymakers looking to book late, a third choosing to
build their own skiing holidays using low cost flights, and 75 per cent
of independent skiers investigating car hire as a cheaper alternative
to often expensive transfers.

How many was your sample size? Who were you asking? How did you conduct your survey? Was there any sort of control group?

There was no detail whatsoever about where these percentages came from. RIDICULOUS.

What do you think we are? Stupid?? For goodness sake people...  you
are communicating with journalists here. Most of us have an obligation
to check the veracity of facts before we publish things.

Is the one remaining difference between PR and journalism that
journalists have a true obligation to their audience - not to some client
that they commit to pump out meaningless tripe for once a week in
return for cash?

And then there was this story on Travelmole (it's password protected - so here's an extract too)

The use of micro blogging site Twitter is gaining rapid penetration within the travel industry, according to a new study. It
revealed that more than half of users (52%) tweeted between four and 10
times a day, with over a quarter sending more than 10 Twitter updates

The survey of 90 Twitter users who tweet
on travel matters was conducted by Andy Jarosz, writer and owner of
travel blog 501 Places.

I am sure this piece was lifted straight from a press release - it certainly feels like it.

We actually got a sample size here. It was 90 people. 90 people for heaven's sake! That's about as statistically valid as asking my mum and the postman! 

So... there you go... PR people writing tosh backed up by pseudo science and journalists who should know better printing it verbatim. No wonder the media industry is in crisis!

Shall we go for comments/examples of the stupidest press release you ever received? Feel free - if you can be bothered...

10 thoughts on “72% of Press Releases are made up crXp!

  1. My eyes drift to the right of your site and "Download your FREE 10 Minutes a Day Route to Fame. (surprised there wasn't a ! on the end of that, a little too much maybe?)

    PrPro Public Relations Training.

    Oh google ads you are so inappropriate sometimes.

    Anyway Jeremy it's a spam thing, when it costs nada to send your spiel there's no need to give a damn about it's content, just wack it together and throw it out and as spamming proved a small enough percentage of end readers will use it to have made it worthwhile.

  2. Hi Jeremy

    Sorry to hear you didn't find the data useful. Just to clarify, the survey went out to 30,000 skiers who live in the UK. We received 1,500 responses to the survey. Just to fight our corner, we always offer to send the breakdown on the survey stats or info on the sample when survey releases are distributed. We only send legitimate data but we will certainly take your point and make sure this is highlighted further in the future.


  3. Hi Victoria.
    Thanks for clarifying. I must point out though that at no point in the email you sent me or the attached PDF file did you offer to send me details of the survey. There is no reference to how the survey was conducted at all. I wonder if the person who sent it out needs to be reminded about your policy? A real shame... because if you did survey 30,000 people and received 1500 responses that is indeed a pretty decent sample.
    Do feel free to post the release in full including the reference to the survey etc and I'd be delighted to link to it etc. I looked on your website for it so I could link to it, but I couldn't find it. Is it available anywhere else?
    Thanks for your swift response.

  4. The TravelMold story is actually even more astonishing than you suggest.

    The headline reads: "Travel industry tweet-rate rising".

    Buried in the story was detail of how many actual industry people had taken the survey. "more than half of the sample group working in paid roles within the travel industry"...

    So that's around a survey-busting 45 people.


  5. Hi Jeremy

    Thanks for yours (and Kevin's) comments about the press release (correctly identified, although it was edited) featured in Travelmole.

    Yes, the sample size was small (around 50 "insiders" and 40 bloggers, interested travellers etc.) and it was never intended to be a scientifically robust study. My primary intention was to collect a selection of quotes from users about what they have got out of using Twitter and tips for newcomers on how to get started. The quotes were not published but I am happy to share with anyone interested.

    The figures were framed with a caveat surrounding sample size but I recognise that this did not come across clearly. A first dabble with free survey software; I acknowledge the "fail" and appreciate the feedback all round.


  6. Hi Andy
    Thanks for your comment... interesting insight into how PR might be about trying to influence media... but doesn't always succeed the way it's intended!
    Feel free to post the Release in its complete form here if you'd like to - or else link to it. Would be interested to read the comments too - which I agree are totally legitimate regardless of sample size.
    It feels like you were a bit mis-served by the journalist who chose to spin your release a particular way. Interesting to see if he feels like adding his thoughts here.
    Best wishes.

  7. Hi Jeremy
    No blame at all for the guys at Travelmole. They got my contribution and edited as they saw fit. It's up to me to provide the quality of content for them to do what they do.
    It's all part of an interesting education for me, having written in many guises in the corporate world but only this year attempting to promote my own work and find my own commissions. A very enjoyable learning process I have to admit.
    I'll pull off the quotes from SurveyMonkey later in the day and post them up.

  8. As mentioned, here's a sample of the more pithy quotes provided by respondents:

    "It's a great way to connect with like-minded travelers who can provide advice on places you've never been/seen"

    "Create a relationship with your followers, and don't hard sell"

    "Don't simply sell. sell, sell your brand. Use your tweets to offer expert advice about the sector of the travel industry you know best"

    "Twitter has been a great way to connect with like-minded people quickly and easily!"

    "Plain broadcasting, rather than interacting, is the surest way to get yourself unfollowed. Self-promotion=good; only self-promotion=boring"

    "I'm always looking for the best travel prices. Break your sale news on Twitter"

    "Have a REAL person do your tweeting, connecting on a person-to-person basis, your time will not be wasted!"

    "Share deals, show pictures, make tweets more personal and less corporate"

    "Be genuine and provide useful information. Engage followers in a conversation"

    "Assign a real person w/ a real name on your behalf"

    "Twitter is about conversation, not sales - tweet interesting info and let US come to YOU"

    "Don't twitter on & on unless you have something useful or inspiring to say!"

    "Easy - and free - info channel to thousands of potential customers. A no-brainer"

    "Listen as well as talk, and look to provide information"

    "Try to inject some personality rather than just flog your wares"

    "For me, the most interesting tweets are those that combine useful, practical advice and travel inspiration with a bit of personality, whether they come from an individual or a brand. Virign Atlantic and Smith Hotels do this particularly well, to name a couple of examples"

    "Expert succinctness is the key"

    "Be yourself. Talk about what excites you. Connect - like it's a new neighbourhood!"

    "Be useful and helpful with your twitts. What you're trying to build here is a community and an image"

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