The art of writing good press releases is getting lost in Oman. The main reason being the publishing market is advertisement-driven and any content is printed ‘as is’, depending on the ties with the advertiser. It is not surprising to see copy-paste content camouflaged as press releases occupying ¾ space of a page in a daily newspaper. The brand advertises on a regular basis and has half-page ads on most days. Any rubbish they dish out goes into the print without any edits.
The only people who read those press releases are the agency handling that brand, top management of the brand whose names have been mentioned in the write-up, and competitors of the brand. The general public (readers) are not interested in reading press releases running up to 800 words. So much so that a well written and an interesting press release (news peg) from an entry-level brand goes almost unnoticed because it has been tucked some where down the page. From experience, I can vouch that to write a 500-word press release it takes a lot of time, and moreover it is a herculean task to source inputs from different departments within a company. If there are quotes involved in the press release then it will run into days with most top management guys being very finicky about what goes into the quote under their name.
The ad executives are also spoiling the way professional press releases are being written by encouraging advertisers to send ‘content’ which could be published as a complimentary offer for the quarter page advertisement. Thanks to Google, in most companies the secretaries of CEOs and MDs are the content generators and whatever they source from Internet goes into the print the next day. Brands are happy, they assume their staff can write well and they think professional writers are just hype. So, next time a PR agency approaches a brand the senior management guy might as well say, “We have people in our company to write press releases.” Be rest assured that a secretary or a finance executive could be writing their press releases. I am not saying they can’t write, but they will not be able to write the way professionals write.
But then who cares in a market like Oman?