March 10, 2021
July 7, 2023
by
Claudia Pritchitt
PB Comms

Suffering from announcement addiction

There has always been people who enjoy being in the media spotlight. But recently there seems to have been another development on these lines – announcement addiction.It seems to be insidious at the moment, particularly well illustrated by governments’ habit of announcing the same thing over and over. It’s something that they seem to have fallen in love with.While we’re great believers in the adage “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them” as a useful approach in communications, it cannot be the bedrock of any program.Too much repetition in media relations in the form of the same announcement being pushed out in different ways over and over is simply counter-productive. Especially if it’s offered to different journalists as an exclusive (this may sound ridiculous but it does happen).A program of announcements about the development of a new project can make sense, and indeed essential to keep communities informed. Such a strategy for a new development might include a contract signing announcement, followed by a “start of work” media release, and an announcement on the completion of work. Then, hopefully, a wrap-up to show the project’s success. Throughout the program there can also be other media activities highlighting innovation, developments and initiative.But some organisations, notably governments, increasingly appear to have taken this to extremes, with the same activity being announced umpteen times, and often without any additional detail at all.At its extreme, it becomes dangerous propaganda when falsehoods are given as facts and repeated over and over, as we have seen with Trump.In Australia we see repeat government announcements about new infrastructure, like motorways and rail systems, made with monotonous regularity, leaving the feeling “we’ve heard all this before”.After a while, audiences are bound to switch off and as a result may miss important new information.Another recent example is Australia’s progress in securing the COVID vaccine. There seemed to be endless announcements before the vaccination program started that didn’t add any new information - which could possibly have contributed to some of the community confusion and loss of confidence that has become apparent.And that’s the problem with crying wolf too often. It creates distrust and there are times when enough is enough. But some organisations and spokespeople seem to find it hard to stop sending out the same news time after time. Even pitching stories already used - anything to stay in the spotlight, it would seem.There are variations of this, some of which have been around for many years. One is the desire to announce something just because it’s important to an individual or an organisation, despite it being of no interest to anyone else.Another version is making announcements to reach some sort of activity target (like two media releases a month) regardless of whether there’s anything newsworthy to say. Media relations programs based on this approach are almost certain to face problems, not least with journalists who get bombarded with breathless announcements of little value.Organisations and executives should recognise that if they push out the same information to the media they’ve spruiked before, it can be counter-productive. Media tarts are usually seen as a figure of fun.

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