I did chuckle this week when I saw a tweet from BBC reporter, John Kay, highlighting a completely irrelevant email that had hit his inbox. It read:

Hi Jon Kay

I was wondering if you’ve received the catwalk photos and press release of the phenomenal ocean fashion show overlooking Sydney Harbour Bridge and the famous Opera House.

I suspect Mr Kay and his colleagues get their fair share of ill-targeted press releases and photos via email but this really does take the biscuit. 

Anyone who had done even just a miniscule amount of homework would have been able to establish that Jon Kay is a UK roving reporter and sometime presenter of Breakfast. The likelihood of him needing photos of a Sydney fashion show is slim to non-existent, as his puzzled tweet showed.

In fact, this kind of shoddy targeting is a bit of a bug bear of mine. I’ve seen too many PRs rely on a database to tell them where to send their press release. PR isn’t about firing out a story to as many people as possible and seeing what sticks.

Call me old-fashioned but PRs who rely solely on a database without doing any research or applying any intelligence deserve to be fired. PR databases do have a place in PR but as a reference tool, there can be no substitute for research and relationships when targeting a story.

Back in the early 90s when I was first getting to grips with the world of PR, my boss, who also happened to be a former journalist, drummed into me that if I didn’t know the last five stories that a journalist had written about, I shouldn’t even bother targeting them.

That was back in the day when the telephone and fax were the main forms of communication with journalists – and the odd boozy lunch, of course! I guess the advent of email has made people lazy, yet surely the internet is the greatest targeting tool there is? Shame on you ocean fashion show PR.