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Think of a husband–well, like Michael Long’s father–whose wife asks him to tighten a loosened screw or fix some doohickey around the house.

Rather than go down to the basement to rummage about in the toolkit, Old Man Long would use a butter knife from the cutlery drawer. The knives got dinged, the screw was never tight enough, and Mom was unhappy.

“The press release is basically the butter knife of the PR writers’ toolkit,” says Long, who is director of writing at MPS/PRCC at Georgetown University. “They end up dragging it out for everything in the world, and most of the time it’s a poor choice.”