"We only send the releases out, we don't actually do anything"

31 July 2008

Yesterday, yet another in the wave of "press release distribution companies" sent me by email a release for femtocell-maker Ip.access. So far, so good. "Femtocells," thinks I. "I'm writing something on femtocells, better have a look."

It's nothing more than saying the company has a white paper on how funky femtocells will be. But, there is a chance there could be something useful in it and I was just beginning to line up interviews. So, I first went to the link to download the file...and found out I need to fill in a form to get it. I'm not over-fussed about filling in a form but, as this is likely to go into some form of CRM system, I figure it's just as easy to save a salesperson a call and get it from the PR. Who, of course, will be named at the bottom of the release and set up the interview at the same time.

I hit Reply and start banging out the email only to notice an odd bit of text in the introduction "...please do not hesitate to contact them via the details below". Then I realise that Neondrum, who sent the release is only distributing the release, with all the usual disclaimers: "[We] cannot accept any liability whatsoever for the inaccuracy or otherwise of any information contained in this news release" etc. All they're going to do is tell me to contact the client. OK fine.

But there are no other contact details.

I asked Neondrum to send them over. Ten hours later (in the meantime, I'd found that CompanyCare had been looking after Ip.access and contacted them directly) I got a reply:

"Sorry, the introductory message was badly worded - ip.access haven't provided a specific contact for this media advisory, if you want to find out more you need to download the paper."

Thanks. That's so helpful. And from a company that publishes a booklet that it claims contains ten top tips for online PR. I wonder if "always provide a contact number" is in there. I'd find out, but you have to register as a client at Neondrum to stand a chance of getting it. If someone has a copy, send it over, I could do with a laugh.


Hi Chris - sorry you had trouble with this. It's my fault - normally my colleague Chris manages this stuff very efficiently, but he's on holiday and I messed up. I'll make sure you get a copy of the paper. Andy Tiller (VP Marketing, ip.access)

Thanks Andy. I have the paper now.

However, there was a general point behind the specific complaint. We're getting a number of press release distribution services being set up now, which is fine. What can happen is that they distribute the stuff but don't do a lot to help where clients have forgotten to put important details on. In this instance, I don't think it would have hurt Neondrum to at least tried to have get back to you about the original request.

Also, there are ways that the distribution services could help themselves to streamline the way they handle questions and requests from people who receive the press releases, or simply just send them out to automated aggregators and have done with it.