TOMS RIVER-Let’s face it, our local governments spend a lot of money each year on public information services. In fact, in Ocean County alone, there is over $1,000,000 in public funds spent on payroll for public information officers between county and municipal government entities. The problem is, the media doesn’t publish most of what is being produced by the high-paid public sector content producers according to many insiders we have spoken to across public offices around the county.
Often, press releases crafted by public officials are difficult to find time for as editors balancing the latest police event with the local team winning the sports championship game just don’t have the time to spend time on a public release about government officials issuing proclamations to public employees, or photo op type event coverage.
Sadly, it has also been determined that many of those releases often contain content which amounts to nothing more than political propaganda veiled as official government business. We’ve noticed the trend that during election years, those running for office are often more prominent in public releases.
“You think we didn’t catch on to that, but we did,” said Shore News Network editor Phil Stilton. “We all did.”
In fact, some newspapers have gone as far as dictating that public press releases containing political candidates can’t be published within a certain time period before the election.
“I get it, you want name recognition for the public officials, we’re all for it, more words, more reads, more Google ranking, but we’re all about the community and the people at SNN, not the sound bites,” Stilton said. “If I had more time in the day, I’d gladly sex up the piece about paving and milling, but there just aren’t enough hours in a day and throw in a few quotes about the importance of government services to the community.”
SNN is now offering commercial, non-government funded or sponsored press release services to public officials and public information officers as a courtesy to the community. Taxpayers are already paying for your press releases, they deserve to at least be given the opportunity to read them and see them! It’s ok, at SNN, we’ll take it all…we’ll slap some Google Ads on it and hope for the best, maybe when the lights go out here, there’s a pio job for all of us somewhere out there.
Shore News Network, like most other media outlets, works hard daily to keep the lights on and we’re going to do it with your press release…maybe…but we’ll figure all that out later.
“Not many people read government press releases unless they’re issued by the police or fire departments because that stuff is actually really cool…and interesting,” said Stilton. “But lots of money is spent each year producing this content that is usually sent to the void of a town website or Facebook page about some pretty mundane topics. Now, we will take that content out of the void and put it in front of real people to read.”
Shore News Network has built an online audience of over one million annual readers in the Greater Ocean County region over the past few years.
“This is a great opportunity for PIO’s. They can tell their bosses they got their work published and we can feel happy about performing a community service to the taxpayers who are paying for those public press releases,” Stilton said. “It’s win-win for local governments and their PIO staff. As an added bonus they might even be motivated enough to share our links on their public Facebook pages, but let’s not get too carried away just yet.”
As is often the case, government entities expend a lot of resources and financial investment annually to craft carefully worded public information announcements. In Ocean County based entities alone, there is a combined expenditure of over $1,000,000 annually on public information officer salaries, but $0 allocated to actually get that information published where people will actually see it as marketing products and services is often an afterthought.
In November, Ocean County Freeholder Joseph Vicari lashed out at the local media for not publishing a single press release in all of 2017 at his election victory celebration in Toms River, yet the county continues to pay a large team of public content producers to continue producing content that rarely gets published.
“I felt bad for the Freeholder, he seemed sincerely upset over it. I know the county spends a lot of money producing the content, but it’s as if they are just sending the releases into the wind,” Stilton said. “Now, he can rest easy knowing that our incredibly awesome authentically local audience will have the chance to see every single release…and at absolutely no additional cost to the hardworking taxpayers of Ocean County…At SNN, we sleep well at night knowing that we’re performing a great civic duty and helping local governments justify the large costs associated with public information content creation.”
“We’re hoping this works out and our readers can fully immerse themselves in this year’s boat pump out releases and flag raising photos,” Stilton added. “SNN is here to serve those who serve us. We got this.”
Public information officers may publish as many or as few press releases to Shore News Network as they can fit into their 8-4:30 schedule.
You can visit the following link to publish your press releases: