Wednesday, April 27, 2011

MCC counts on media being asleep at the wheel -- but obscuration effort fails

PR pros and journalists don’t always see eye-to-eye, but there’s one thing on which we all agree: Never, ever bury the lead.
That’s why we were so surprised when we got a very bland press release titled “Macomb Community College Appoints Trustee to Fill Vacancy; Sets 2011-12 Tuition Rates.”
The intro covers the appointment of Charley G. Jackson Jr. to fill a vacancy on the board of trustees, with a little background about the undoubtedly worthy Mr. Jackson.
It’s information, certainly, but not exactly news.
In this press release it functions as a lullaby meant to lull the unsuspecting news media to sleep before the real information appears later in the press release. That’s where we find out that oh, by the way, MCC is hiking tuition by $4 to $84 per credit hour.  
That’s a 5 percent increase. And that’s the real news.
It was the press release equivalent of a headline writer leading with "PRESIDENT SHOT, the new movie, is being filmed Saturday."
News media folks are accused periodically of being asleep at the wheel, but apparently MCC was counting on the media being downright comatose.  But based on the headlines the tuition hike sparked, it was just wishful thinking.      


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