And the Giraffe vs. PR

3310716044-1This is a press release I genuinely just received:

“Band that this release is about has done nothing noteworthy, but by sending a press release, would like you to believe that they have. They’re (Choose one) [making waves, turning heads, breaking the mold, or gaining national attention]! (Please note the exclamation point as a mark of enthusiasm that you should share).

““Made up quote about the recording process,” says band member, who plays guitar. “Secondary quote with less merit than the first.”

“Over the past [year, month, week, 24 hours], the album has been getting a lot of attention (not really, but who cares). Honestly, people haven’t said anything about the new album yet, but here’s a quote from their friend Greg that not-so-subtly mentions the bands he thinks they sound like. “This record has hints of FAMOUS-BAND, NOT-SO FAMOUS BAND, and the guitar work of Peter Frampton.

“[Band Name] has been gaining quite the following on social media outlets such as Myspace and Email. If you haven’t heard of them yet, there’s a good chance you never will. They’re finishing college soon and their made-up-genre scene will soon disappear. Recent accolades include:

  • iTunes

““Closing quote from another band member that rambles and takes up space,” says temporary drummer.

“For more information, please contact us by cell phone please.”

Now, you may think I’m about to condemn them to the PR FAIL series on my Tumblr site for this sort of silliness, but I’m not. You see, this little bit of comedy highlights one of the most understandable reasons why so many press releases are so awful.

I know I am hard on PR people, largely because they clutter my inbox with the most unimaginable wildly unsuitable guff most of the time, but whilst doing the job badly is all too easy, doing it well is incredibly difficult.

Take the writing of press releases, for example. For bands people know about, they’re often redundant, because we already know about them and are just interested in the data – new album, new tour, etc.

For new bands, however, it’s almost impossible. ‘Find an angle’ you are told, ‘find a story’. But often there just isn’t one.  What are you supposed to do then, squeeze blood from a stone? Yes, I suppose you could answer, as a PR person that is your job, if there isn’t much of a story then it’s your job to find one, but honestly that results in some of the most forced, contrived, and ultimately the most stilted and unengaging press releases I have ever read.

They can also seem a little bit silly, too, which is never a help when you are trying to get people to listen to your music. Adding superlatives to a young band who haven’t really achieved anything yet just makes you look stupid. Grandiose comparisons are even worse.

So really, we go back to the press release at the top of the page and honestly, I tell you, it’s not all that far from the truth. We tend to work with bands no-one knows that much about, who tend to be on their first release, and what can you possibly say? ‘Here are some friends who made some music, and we hope you can make the time to give them a chance and have a listen’ is about all you can really say before you head off into the murky realms of empty hyperbole, needless filler, and pure fiction.

And then the problem is, of course, that you end up with an article like this, where the whole post is about the press release and not about the music. Because actually I did click through to listen to the music and unfortunately, after enjoying their email, I wasn’t that keen, honestly. But I suppose it still worked, really, because you can’t force people to like your stuff, but hopefully you can persuade them to have a listen and give it a chance, which is the very first job of a press release.

So please do them the courtesy of giving the Bandcamp embed below a chance, because actually this is the most honest press release I’ve read in ages.