It's been a while since I drew the curtain back and let you all see the PR Wall of Shame. Well, today I received a "double fault" and I thought I'd share it with you.
Lately, I've been seeing this paragraph a lot (or extremely similar ones written by stupid lawyers and accepted without thought by their clients) connected to an emailed press release.
This email, including any attached files, may contain confidential and privileged information for the sole use of the intended recipient(s). Any review, use, distribution or disclosure by others is strictly prohibited. Distribution of sensitive technical material may violate applicable export and trade laws. If you are not the intended recipient or authorized to receive information for the recipient(s), please contact the sender by reply email and delete all copies of this message. E-mail may be susceptible to data corruption, interception, unauthorized amendment, viruses and delays or the consequences thereof. Accordingly this e-mail and any attachments are opened at your own risk . Unless expressly stated in this e-mail, nothing in this message should be construed as a digital or electronic signature.
Note the second sentence: "Any review, use, distribution or disclosure by others is strictly prohibited."
So, what it says is that legally, I (as the intended recipient) can read it, but I can't distribute it to others (like my readers, eh?) and if I do, I am breaking the law.
Now, let us remind ourselves, just what exactly the purpose of a press release is. See why I say that this wording was accepted without thought by the clients of the lawyers who got paid $400 an hour to have a $25 an hour paralegal think up this wording to begin with.
What was the "double fault"?
The press release was submitted in PDF. So, in order to use it, I have to copy it out of PDF into a Word document...a process that assumes you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat--you can't do it with just the reader. We ask, repeatedly, for press releases to be provided as Word documents. I've even gotten several PDF releases that have been locked! Sheesh. Folks, if you send me a press release on paper, or one in an encrypted PDF, you have exactly zero chance of getting me to run it, because I don't have the time or resources to re-type what you sent me. This is the digital age, for pity sake!
This is one of the reasons I take time every two years to teach the fundamentals of PR at the ISA Marketing and Sales Summit (coming up September 1-3 in Atlanta).