The primary purpose of any press release – particularly a commercial press release – is to gain media coverage for the client; to get the client’s name as far as possible into the public sphere in a way that does not appear to be an advert.
Often there are secondary purposes – perhaps to publicise a new product range, or to inform the public of a new breakthrough in technology, or even as cynically as to plant a subtle hint that the public has a problem which they were previously unaware of, but which the client in question is the solution to.
Running up to Christmas, the hotel chain Travelodge took both of these purposes very seriously indeed, seeding a string of articles into the press to promote the notion that spending Christmas in the bosom of our family is a stressful and friction-filled affair, liable to result in all manner of arguments and issues.
We’ve been told that families argue, on average, as early as 10:13am on Christmas Morning, and that of all the guests expected over Christmas time, it’s the mother-in-law we dread seeing the most.
Pouring fuel on those fires even further, we’ve the following two articles, both in (at least) the Daily Mail:
Half of men think women exaggerate stress of Christmas while a third think they could do a better job
Four in ten women would not trust their partners to carry out essential tasks
A massive 85 per cent also say men don’t understand the effort required for a perfect Christmas
42 per cent of women find hosting Christmas Day their most stressful job of the year
Source: Daily Mail, 16 December 2012
Nightmares about giant turkeys, too many presents to wrap and parties to attend… STRESSMAS has arrived as today marks Britain’s worst week for sleep deprivation
45% of Britons will lose 21 hours of sleep this week in the run up to Christmas Day
Almost half will survive on a mere five hours of sleep a night in order to cram in last minute tasks and preparations as well as festive celebrations
Source: Daily Mail, 17 December 2012
These latter two stories, interestingly enough, deriving from the same Travelodge press release:
Travelodge, then, are so successful at getting their coverage into the press that the Daily Mail will take a single press release of theirs and cut it into two – which, from the newspaper’s perspective, is an effective use of resources at a busy time of the year. And, of course, the client is delighted that they get double the coverage for their business. So who loses out here? As ever, it is the reader.
Throughout all of the Christmas press releases by Travelodge, the angle has always been the same – spending time with your family can be hell, so why not book into a hotel instead?
That Travelodge think it’s acceptable to advertise their rooms by perpetuating all manner of negative stereotypes and pseudo-gender wars is, quite frankly, a huge shame, and a disappointment. That the newspapers uncritically publish this non-research as if it were genuine news, is just as bad.