The Mad Photocopiers: Why News Releases are Not Used

To some PIOs, with scientists and superiors goading them, any scientific paper, whether published or presented, is fair game for a try at publicity. As a result, science writers and editors receive much more material than they can reasonably read and digest — certainly more than they can use.

The writers and editors who receive this material tend to ignore what they get from organizations that send out releases indiscriminately and may even stop opening mail from those institutions. The media pay attention to materials from sources that make a special effort to send out only what is significant news.

As a media chairperson or PIO, you should exert news judgment in choosing papers, events, or materials for release to media. This may require you to ask some hard but sincere questions of your scientist (e.g., Are we the only institution doing this work? Is this the first time this is being reported?).

Science writers almost never use news releases on personnel changes, awards, grants, new facilities, arcane or trivial technical findings, new products and corporate reports. If at all possible avoid sending those to science writers, unless you are certain that a particular writer has some use for them. For example, local science writers or trade publications may have use for some of these releases.

Here are other reasons why releases are not used, whatever the story category:


Return to the Communicating Science News contents page.