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The Worst News News Release Of The Year (So Far)

A few days ago, writer friend and long-time colleague Paul Franson emailed me to say that I should devote some attention in News Fetch to news releases with LONG HEADLINES IN ALL CAPS.

And then yesterday, along comes the news release below that is so bad in so many ways that it gets its own article.

Both Paul and I have been in the PR and marketing biz — among other things we both owned our own tech firms and competed for business in Silicon Valley. We both understand how clients demand, browbeat and threaten in order to get their egos stroked in a news release.

But we also recognized that while clients come and go, our reputations always remained at risk. Reputations and quality (and a lot of hard work and creativity) were what allowed us to get results…and do it a lot better than most others. In the past, I resigned more than one client who tried to force bad writing and practices on me, my firm and my people.

So now to the piece below.

First of all the release is so long, so boring and so bereft of  solid information that it would put an editor or reader to sleep faster than an overdose of Hydrocodone.

Second, LONG ALL CAPS HEADLINES are hard for the reader to comprehend and look like a pathetic plea for attention. Short subheads are frequently acceptable in copy and text, and often work well for emphasis but should be used sparingly.

CAPS… like CURSING, lose their impact when over-used.

The text segments in red are my way of marking  unsubstantiated superlatives, unsupported statements, meaningless hype words, unbelievable assertions and other prose that would have earned an instant “F” in the  journalism and writing classes I taught at UCLA and Cornell. There are more words and phrases deserving of the red treatment but after a while, I got tired of marking them all.

To begin with, there is no credible information presented that there is excitement or power here.

And one of the world’s leading or a leading force are total fudge statements.

They establish that you’re not number one, two, three … and that you really have no idea where you stand, but that you wish to mislead the reader into thinking that you’re more important than you may or may not be since you have presented no facts on which to make a decision.

And as for the following, again there is no substantiation. And if they were true, wouldn’t we already know this without the unsupported superlatives?

  • world’s most exciting new international wine auction houses (Where’s the excitement? Who says?)
  • sure to delight the most discerning collectors (Who says? Yo! A few credible facts here!)
  • world-renowned (someone who is truly world-renowned doesn’t need this)

Well, that touches on a few of the things that makes this the worst news release so far this year.

Read it and weep.


(September 13, 2011; IRVINE, CA) – Spectrum Wine Auctions LLC, one of the world’s leading wine auction houses based in Irvine, CA, and global fine wine dealer Vanquish Wine Ltd. of London, England, announced a powerful new partnership today beginning with plans to hold a spectacular auction of the finest and rarest wines in London in February 2012, bringing new auction life back to a centuries-old market. This inaugural auction will feature only the most rare and unique wines that the international marketplace has to offer, and is sure to delight the most discerning collectors worldwide.

Following the success of Spectrum Wine’s live auctions in California and Hong Kong, which have realized over $30 million USD in sales since launching in 2009, the partnership brings together one of the world’s most exciting new international wine auction houses with Vanquish Wine Ltd., an established luxury drinks specialist and wine merchant powerhouse. Together they will offer a fresh, fun and exciting new venue from which to buy and sell wine in London.

Vanquish’s Fine Wine division is led by Richard Brierley, a world-renowned auctioneer and former vice president, head of North American wine sales at Christie’s. “I have long held the ambition of bringing the excitement that I knew at auctions in New York and Los Angeles to the more established auction scene in London,” says Brierley. “Partnering with Spectrum Wine brings its technology, considerable global reach and experienced staff together with our established client-base, vast auction experience and exceptional client service.”

The joint collaboration boasts several decades of auction experience and a global database of loyal clients, immediately establishing the Spectrum Wine-Vanquish team as a leading force in the London wine auction market.

“Richard Brierley and Vanquish’s team are tremendously talented and have quickly become one of London’s most trusted sources for fine wine,” says Spectrum Wine Auction’s President, Jason Boland. “We look forward to working closely with Vanquish to bring the world’s best consignments to auction and to jointly service the London collectible wine market in the best way possible.”

The first sale of this exciting new partnership is scheduled for early February 2012, with a date to be announced later in the year. Exceptional consignments of extraordinary wines for this inaugural auction are invited until December 1, 2011.

About Spectrum Wine Auctions
Following in the grand tradition of its sister auction companies, Spectrum Wine Auctions is a subsidiary of Spectrum Group International, Inc. (SPGZ:PK), a consolidated global collectibles network. The company is a leading auctioneer of stamps, coins, and other memorabilia, targeting both collectors and dealers. Building a strong financial foundation, Spectrum Group International is also a merchant/dealer of certain collectibles and trader of precious metals. The company’s collectibles offerings range from the modest to ultra high-end in value and span the globe. Spectrum Wine Auctions also conducts semimonthly online auctions through The company offers competitive incentives for consignors, including 30-day payouts in full for all lots sold regardless as to whether the firm has collected from each buyer, and the ability to consign both highly-collectible and commonly found wines.

Backed by many decades of auction expertise and driven by a team of dedicated wine specialists and enthusiasts, Spectrum Wine Auctions is committed to offering buyers and sellers alike the most accessible and expansive auction opportunities of what is simply the world’s greatest consumable and collectible product-wine.

About Vanquish Wine Ltd.
Vanquish is London’s leading Luxury Drinks Specialist focusing on the sale of fine wines, Champagne and premium spirits to an international group of private and trade clients.

Vanquish is an innovative and energetic business with a defined goal to be the best possible supplier, investor and drinks service provider in the luxury beverage market. The significant experience and knowledge base within the Vanquish team means that they are able to offer customers expert advice on product selection, aid in support from brand owners and advise and build cellars for collection, investment and consumption.

Such attention to detail has enabled them to secure the most discerning buyers in the world as clients.

By being customer focused, it provides them the understanding and the ability to address needs and expectations; enabling Vanquish to provide unsurpassed value in both product and services offered.