Summarised, so you don't have to read them and we don't have to write them...
At this time of year we become inundated with press releases from companies all hoping to catch us off guard when we're susceptible to an easy story with a tenuous Christmas angle.
However, although there may be hundreds of individual pitches sent in our direction, there are seldom more than half a dozen stories, just repeated ad nauseum. Don't get us wrong, sometimes they're relevant and sometimes they slip through the net but in case you're interested, and just so we cover them all, here they are.
Shoppers warned about the dangers of PCs under the Christmas tree
We see this almost more than any other story in the run-up to Christmas. The notion is that every antivirus company wants to warn shoppers that PCs which have sat on the shelves for weeks or months won't have up-to-date security and often users don't make installing antivirus software the first thing they do on Christmas morning. Similarly they also want to remind parents that if they are giving their child a PC they should mug up on the threats which lurk online.
Hackers playing wicked Christmas e-card game
Don't click on e-cards at Christmas time (or at any time) because a lot of the time they are going to contain viruses, Trojans or spyware. By mid-December we'd lost count of the number of companies who had issued this warning.
Staff swap work for online shopping as Christmas nears
Various concerned groups are quick to point out that employees who work hard all year round start slacking off in December in order to shop online for Christmas presents. Shocking.
Alternatively, other concerned groups of a more liberal opinion will urge bosses to let staff shop online as part of a more agreeable work life balance. (This is also similar in many ways to the story, received a dozen or so times about staff taking more liberties with office email and internet access as they get demob happy in the run-up to the 25th. On the flipside we also tend to see half a dozen different companies pitching research figures they've collected which show how many staff can't resist logging on to their work email over the holiday and how many do some kind of remote work on Christmas day.)
Don't let new toys play havoc with your network
Many people will be getting new iPods and digital cameras this Christmas and many will want to bring them in to show off to their colleagues. However, such items pose a serious threat relating to what data might be brought in or taken out of the organisation. Employees may also be tempted to start synching devices or introducing new software which will make for trouble down the line and headaches for the IT department.
Online stores ready for bumper Christmas sales
Retail associations, retailers, payment processing firms, secure transaction service suppliers, bandwidth providers... in fact pretty much anybody with any tenuous link to online shopping will have put this one out some time in the last few weeks. They're right of course, because it's Christmas and that's what happens.
So don't be offended if you or your company or client pitched one of these stories to us this year and we didn't write it. There's always next year, just remember to change the date at the top of your release.