Image by scazon, via Flickr on a Creative Commons licence

We may be back in recession, but Britain is enjoying a summer of celebration.

The Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012 football championships and London Olympics (less than 40 days to go!) will combine to lift the national mood and provide a £1bn boost to the nation’s ailing economy, according to experts.

You may think Britain’s journalists, along with retailers and pub landlords, would be among those rubbing their hands with glee at this prospect – and to a certain extent you’d be right.

A summer of key national events offers welcome relief from the usual news drought of ‘silly season’, and the opportunity to boost circulation figures and audiences.

There is, however, one side effect of key national events that is sure to cause anger in newsrooms across the land, and leave exasperated hacks praying for September and the return to day-to-day normality.

We are referring, of course, to the ‘shoehorn’ press release. That is, a release that seeks to link an organisation’s news announcement to said major event by any means possible. The more tenuous the link, the better (apparently).

Last year was all about the royal wedding, and examples for 2012 could include:

  • “As the Queen celebrates 60 years on the throne, we are marking our own special anniversary”
  • “With Euro 2012 now under way, companies across the region are being warned they could score an own goal if they fail to buy our latest product”

The problem with this tactic is not only that it annoys journalists and sounds slightly ridiculous, but also that it significantly reduces the chances of your release gaining coverage.

As former journalists, we know that news editors are inundated with wave after wave of ‘shoehorn’ press releases during national events. If every one was used, think of the sheer number of releases that would appear in print and online with similar intros. No half-decent news editor is going to let that happen. ‘Shoehorn’ releases are likely to be spiked, and rightly so.

Let’s be clear. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a PR campaign that uses a national event to raise awareness of a genuinely important issue, such as the warning from the NHS Blood and Transplant Service that a drop in people giving blood over the Jubilee weekend led to national stocks falling by seven per cent.

This, indeed, is PR at its smartest – but such examples are few and far between.

For the most part, we recommend resisting the urge to create an artificial ‘hook’ for your release. News editors will be pleased to receive anything that doesn’t mention Euro 2012 or the London Olympics for the next few months, if only for the novelty.