I noticed something that I’d not seen before at the end of a press release earlier today:
This news release is issued in accordance with Clause 1.2j of the British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion and therefore cannot be the subject of a transaction of any kind.
I wasn’t quite sure what this meant – and supposed it was an attempt to avoid the attentions of telesales staff from publications who call offering to place a press release for a fee (which used to be called a colour separation charge).
But checking the Code, relating to “non-broadcast advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing communications (marketing communications)”, Clause 1.2 states that the Code does not apply to:
j) press releases and other public relations material, so long as they do not fall under 1.1 above
Moving back to point 1.1, it states:
1.1 The Code applies to:
a) advertisements in newspapers, magazines, brochures, leaflets, circulars, mailings, e-mails, text transmissions, fax transmissions, catalogues, follow-up literature and other electronic and printed material
b) posters and other promotional media in public places, including moving images
c) cinema and video commercials
d) advertisements in non-broadcast electronic media, including online advertisements in paid-for space (eg banner and pop-up advertisements)
e) viewdata services
f) marketing databases containing consumers’ personal information
g) sales promotions
h) advertisement promotions
So, I’m confused as to what the actual statement at the end of the press release actually means. It appears to be implying that if the content of the release is viewed as a commercial advertisement (presumably meaning payment for coverage), then it would be subject to a Code which it otherwise isn’t.
But the Code itself doesn’t actually state that the release cannot be the subject of a transaction. As Alice would say, curiouser and curiouser.
Media organisations: news providers and others may reproduce and publish up to 20% of a press release without permission provided that “Training Press Releases” is clearly quoted as indicated at the start of each press release. To obtain permission to reproduce more that 20% of a press release and multiple press releases, please complete this request form for a prompt reply. Permission is not required for personal copying use and non-commercial use.
Have you ever heard of journalists being expected to ask permission to use a press release, or being told they have to quote the distribution organisation’s name at the start? The link to the site’s legal notices reveals that:
It is the responsibility of the advertising company or provider of news items to ensure the accuracy of the content of its press releases and advertisements.
So this company, clearly sees press releases as a form of advertising. Although personally I feel that far too many companies use press releases more as a form of spam or direct mail, their purpose should be to convey accurate information to the media – not to be seen as an attempt at “free” advertising.
If you use a similar statement – or can explain its value – please comment below.