Why aren’t there five W’s in the puzzle?

Okay, so in a previous entry, I advised newscast producers should avoid satellite media tours like the plague. Now, I’d like to expand that plea just a bit.

Oh, great gatekeepers of the television news broadcasts, please do yourselves and your viewers this favor. Program any and all e-mails from out-of-town PR firms to go straight to junk mail.

In my previous television work, a plethora of press releases from 5WPR, based in New York, provided many a chuckle. As the name should imply, 5WPR should fully disclose the who, what, where, when and why of a particular proposed story.

I can’t think of a time 5WPR went five out of five when it came to providing these specifics. The who was always an unnamed “local expert on (whatever).” At least one other W per press release was vague.

One particular August, I saw a golden opportunity to take them to task. I can’t think of the name of the PR rep — so it’s just as well I leave that who vague. A lady e-mailed me a proposed back-to-school nutrition interview. She went on and on about how the summer’s ending and the school bells will ring again. The lady noted a “local health coach” (as was the case umpteen zillion times before, no name disclosed) was ready to come our way to tell viewers how their kids can eat healthy during the lunch break.

Well, the PR rep made the who and the when look terrible in just that one press release. How? If you’ve lived in my neighborhoods as long as I have, you’re well aware school starts back — wait for it — in early or mid-August.

So, I wrote her back asking this question. “Um — did this ‘local health coach’ tell you school’s already back in session?” No response from her. Looking back, I should’ve called her asking for a name of this coach — and then addressed the when. Then — sit back and listen to that awkward silence.

She, like many others before and since, don’t bother to do research on a targeted audience. They just put on blindfolds, pick up darts and hope they land somewhere on the dartboard — not necessarily aiming for a triple-20 much less a bullseye.

A few weeks ago, there was word the founder of 5WPR was hired to handle crisis control at the Sinclair Broadcast Group. If you have to ask why, you’ve lived under a rock. Either that or you’re writing up a press release for 5WPR on SBG’s behalf while not clearly defining the why.

Bottom line to producers: Local PR reps do a much better job of defining the who, what, where, when and why of a particular proposed story than 5WPR. Review the locals’ press releases on a case-by-case basis and go from there.

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