Rodney Gedda's piece of the Web

Another whinge for your collection


I’ll be honest, that’s not my headline. It’s the subject of an e-mail I received from the very experienced and highly respected freelance IT journalist Stephen Withers.

I worked with Stephen a few years ago on PC World’s Ultimate Guide to Mac OS X minibook. Stephen was a consulting editor on the project and his Mac knowledge came in VERY handy.

Stephen, wisely noticing the value of as a rough but effective communications medium, has a bone to pick with regarding the all too frequent PR activity of spamming journalists with press releases. And no, PR doesn’t stand for Press Release in case you were wondering.

Here’s a copy of the e-mail, reproduced with Stephen’s permission and request to keep all specific references anonymous…

I don’t really like media releases in the form of HTML email (as opposed to plain text), but I can live with them, UNLESS the flack has used Arial Narrow as the body font.

It has to be one of the least legible fonts at small sizes. I have to click the ‘font size’ button two or three times before it’s anything like readable, and even then it’s still hard on the eye.

XXXX release from XXXX is a good example of how bad it can be.

Why do they do this to us?

Well said Stephen. I always thought uploading a press release to the Web was by far the best way to go. IDG even invested in a marketing portal, ITMarketer for this very reason. All at a great price – free!

If you must spam out a press release plain text is definitely the best format, for simple interoperability. I know it’s hard to believe, but not everyone is using the same version of Microsoft Outlook as their default mail client. So what might look perfect to you may well turn up in size three font in someone else’s inbox. Hence plain text for all e-mail.

Stephen also has a complaint about images…

This time a 276K graphic. Resampled to screen resolution, it’s only 45K. Grrr!

As I’ve said before, all readers are welcome to contribute to Feel free to write up a blog you want to get off your chest and I’ll happily post it. Alternatively, do what Stephen did and e-mail me the message.

And again, the purpose of this is not to chide anyone but rather to provide a medium for an almost non-existent communications channel – journalist to PR.

Have a super weekend!


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