Can a Press Release Become the News?

Cashing in on press releases that generate
negative publicity is simply goofy.

I saw an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, “State Sen. Sandoval’s $68,400 side gig: translating news releases,” by Dan Mihalopoulos, Steve Warmbir, and Dave McKinney about how a politician is making a great living by being a consultant for the Town of Cicero, where he was also elected to serve. What caught my attention was not just what State Senator Martin Sandoval is doing to profit from his skills, but that there’s so much news surrounding press releases. That’s because with the speed of communication nowadays, press releases aren’t as important as they used to be.

It used to be that a press release was the only way to connect to the media, but now there are other avenues, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, which make us not have to rely on just press releases. I still think they’re useful and allow us to summarize client news. Plus they’re a good way to send out information that might be picked up by news websites. But spending thousands of dollars on them? That’s not smart at all.

If you hire someone to translate a press release and distribute it through a service such as PR Web, it should only cost around $300. But according to the article, the Town of Cicero is paying him $4,200 a month to be a consultant, in addition to the $1,500 a month he gets from the village of Melrose Park. That’s a lot of money to spend for press releases, especially when the media has changed, and they don’t pay as much attention to press releases anymore.

Sen. Sandoval has taken advantage of people’s lack of media savvy, and look what it’s gotten him: negative press coverage.