In a recent posting I was talking about using pseudonyms (pen names), or no name at all, when sending out your press releases. I received quite a few responses to that issue. So here’s some more information on the subject –

When you send out a press release, you have to have some name attached to it. You certainly can use a pen name. Many people have used them throughout history – Mark Twain being a name that quickly comes to mind. But, you cannot send an anonymous press release expecting it to be published. It just won’t happen.

Several of you came up with instances where using a name other than yours would be appropriate.

Cynthia Alexander said: “Here’s a reason I can think of to use an assumed name: Suppose that someone wants to spill the beans on something & has written an expose. They can’t reveal their name because they still work within that industry & would be considered a traitor or whistle blower.”

That’s an excellent reason, but notice that the person sending the press release was still using a name, just not their name.

Here’s one from Brijinder Singh:

“One possible reason for this is this situation: You have a high stakes project. You want to try out certain approaches without tipping your hand to competitors or even eventual clients. You think a poorly designed approach would not reflect well on you. So you try out a few pilots under pen names. When you find one that works, you then launch and pursue it under your real name.”

Scott Becker said: “I’ve been putting together a media release for my mortgage business, and was wondering the same thing about keeping my name out of the release. The reason is because I don’t want others in the business to catch on to what I’m doing. Probably not a good idea, but the thought of keeping my name out has crossed my mind.”

Scott, if you send a release with no name at all, it just won’t be printed. Reporters put themselves out on a limb when they run a story. That’s why good reporters will check, double and even triple check their sources and information.

If you use a pen name without letting the reporter know, you’re taking a risk and so is the reporter. For example, let’s say you offered a reporter some very inflammatory information about your competition and used a pen name. The reporters runs the story with your pen name. Your competitor files a law suit against the reporter and the person with the pen name, who actually was you. It becomes very easy for you to deny that you are that person. Meanwhile, the reporter is stuck with the legal problems.

Reporters are very reluctant to let people use false names. The obvious exception to this is “Deep Throat” of Watergate fame. But even then, Woodward and Bernstein knew his true identity. The false name was used to protect the person providing the information.

So, while I agree that secrecy can be used to your benefit, you’ve got to be very careful when using it with your press releases.

See you next time!

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