Do we need qualifications to read press releases now?

14 October 2005

I received two emails from a media researcher at PRNewswire (PRN) today wanting some supplementary information about me as a journalist. Nothing unusual in that, except that the questions go a bit further than whether I'd like to get releases by mail, email or carrier pigeon. And, apparently it is all in the aim of achieving a "better targeting of press releases".

First up: the year I started in my current role. I don't know, will PRN only send me stuff if I have been in place for one, two, maybe three years? It might help if they indicated which role they were asking about: the two emails suggest that the entries are for different magazines. Even so, the relevance of this information to PRN I have yet to work out*. But the thirst for information at PRN did not stop there.

The next bit on the email form looked like this:

Education (the most recent)
The name of the Educational establishment:

Subject studied:

Just the most recent education, you understand. No need for the full CV. Well, that's a relief. I thought for a minute I'd better just send my full CV off to PRN just so they can improve their targeting. Quite how telling them I (kind of) studied chemistry close to 20 years ago in London is going to help them work out which releases they are going to send me on electronics, I am a little unsure. Maybe I'll get taken off the electronics listings altogether and put onto feedstocks and drug design bulletins. I'd be intrigued to know which genius thought up this bunch of questions. I have asked PRN, but have had no reply as yet.

The questions didn't stop there, although they didn't go as far as inside leg measurement or sexual preference. PRN would also like to know which foreign languages I speak - which does make a bit more sense. And finally, my story-gathering preferences. Don't you worry your little heads over that PRN, just keep updating the RSS channels and I'll decide how I deal with the stuff that gets plonked in them.

* OK, I might have worked it out. It looks like PRN is putting together a journalist's profile database along the lines of MediaMap, but doing it in the most ham-fisted way possible.