My thoughts turned to this conundrum when I read this latest story in the Mail on Sunday: A website used by married people to have adulterous affairs is being accessed thousands of times a month from Parliamentary computers used by MPs, peers and their staff.
The story names the website as Out of Town Affairs, and the owner of the site, Out of Town Affairs is quoted as saying: “That’s a lot of hits. It’s got to be more than one person going on the site from Parliament.”
The owner must surely be delighted by the publicity gained. After all, almost a page devoted to it in the paper.
But unfortunately I began to question it – because although I haven’t received any press release from Out of Town Affair and this particular story might not even have come from a press release, over the last few months I’ve been bombarded with press releases from affairs and adultery websites in general.
And the problem is I felt as if I’d read this story before – lots of times and especially recently.
So I found myself thinking, are so many married people really sat at their computers surfing adultery websites all day? Or is this just another story generated by an adultery website and aimed simply at gaining publicity in the national press?
To put this in perspective, I easily receive in excess of 300 emails in any working day. Many of these are press releases from PR companies – in fact, if they are interesting, I put them on this website.
But, although I have in the past placed these PR stories from adultery websites on this site – if they have something to say – I have found myself not putting these press releases from affairs websites on recently. Because there are so many of them, it has put me off. To me, if something is an obvious PR plug, it loses its interest. And I would hate readers of this site to think, ‘oh not another piece about adultery websites…’
Taking the Mail On Sunday piece, the owners of Out of Town Affairs are I would imagine delighted with it – after all, it’s made a page and with a snapshot of their site, given them great free publicity.
Several similar stories from adultery sites have recently appeared in the national press as a direct result of a press release. It goes to show that sending out press releases does work. If they are well-written and have something to say they will either be printed as they are or, if you can gain the exclusive interest of a paper, can make a bigger story.
But there is a big danger that in sending out so many press releases you will overdo it. In my opinion it is not a good idea to send so many press releases out in one go or so close together over a short period of time. It is a bad thing when a busy journalist like myself starts, in all the many emails she is receiving, to notice you (or your competitor) have sent yet another. Ideally gaining publicity should be far more subtle, so readers (and journalists!) do not realise it is a puff by a company to advertise themselves. It can be a good idea not to over-use one particular way to gain publicity too (there are lots of varied ways to gain publicity, apart from a press release.)
Anything that is overdone in newspapers and magazines has a definite shelf life. A pushy campaign might work short term but most businesses are looking for long-term success, so an overdone campaign can scupper future publicity plans. This is because other editors, like myself, decide they have already seen too much about you and given you enough space.
And getting back to that question about sending out a press release to compete with a competitor. It might seem a good idea if you see a competitor get successful coverage. But it can be pointless. This is because if a competitor is successfully gaining publicity then you will also gain extra hits on your site from that publicity. Unfortunately readers often don’t quite remember the name of the website they’ve been reading about – but they will remember the nature of it. So they are as likely to input ‘dating affair website’ into google when you and all your competitors will equally pop up.
It can also be counter-productive. Journalists like myself may just think your press release is another one from the same company – like readers we don’t always initially distinguish one press release from another. And when we are sent so many at one time on the same subject, we are likely to think we’ve already seen that press release and delete them all as a job lot.
There is another particular issue as well with these adultery websites. Of course relationships, cheating and adultery are subjects that many people are interested in reading about.
But when I did put some of these press releases on this website I received emails from people complaining that such sites do cause pain. They pointed out that such editorials might encourage someone who has not thought about going on them to do so – in effect they encourage cheating, which can’t be right.
And that made me think twice about giving them publicity.
But for those of you interested in how often companies send out press releases, here’s a sample of the press releases for campaigns run by these affair dating websites we have received from October 2012 to January 2013.
15th October 2012: Inner-city adultery. Amorous Scots use married dating site to meet. Sent by: adultery.co.uk
26th October 2012: Workplace affairs set to rise in December. Sent by: Adultery.co.uk
5th November 2012: Affair site says Obama wins. Sent by: maritalaffair.com
12th November 2012: Londoners in love with Marital Affair. Sent by: Maritalaffair.co.uk
13th November 2012: The Daily Mail is the no:1 choice for cheating housewives. Sent by: illicitencounters.com
15th November 2012: £2.5billion a year spent on office affairs. Sent by: Illicitencounters.com
16th November 2012: Don’t do a Patreaus – Read the dummies (sic) guide to having an affair. Sent by: maritalaffair.co.uk
20th November 2012: Do you want to feel younger and more attractive? Have an affair. Sent by illicitencounters.com
22nd November 2012: Women seeking affairs are on the increase Sent by: Illicitencounters.com
22nd November 2012: Christmas gifts for mistresses. Sent by: maritalaffair.co.uk
10th December 2012: Over 30% of staff admit to sleeping with a co-worker at the office party. Sent by: illicitencounters.com
29th December 2012: Sexual healing should be banned at office Christmas party’s (sic). Sent by: illicitencounters.com
31st December 2012: Women vastly outnumber men joining adultery website after Christmas. Sent by: undercoverlovers.com
2nd January 2013: January’s perfect storm for infidelity. Sent by: illictencounters.com
3rd January 2013: 300% rise in affairs over Christmas. Sent by maritalaffair.co.uk
9th January 2013: Married dating site exceeds three quarters of a million members as people ‘look to cure winter blues’ Sent by Illicitencounters.com
9th January 2013: The most adulterous week of the year. Sent by Victoriamillan.co.uk, an infidelity website.
21st January 2013: Essex boom in online extra-marital encounters as snow falls. Sent by illicitencounters.com
24th January 2013: The Snow may have thawed but some relationships are still frosty. Sent by: illicitencounters.com
29th January 2013: Women reveal the sexiest male professions. Sent by: illicitencounters.co.uk
29th January: Ten most annoying things in your relationship: Sent by: victoramilan.co.uk, an infidelity website.
30th January 2013: Over 75% of married women want more sex. Sent by: maritalaffair.co.uk
Have you been cheated on? Perhaps your partner or spouse had an affair using a cheating website. If you have a story suitable for a magazine or newspaper, contact our sister site Featureworld here.