Many wasted words are holdovers from the early days of PR, when press releases were written on stone tablets. Others are borrowed from the corporate jargon that emerged since the advent of the corporate website.
It’s not just the words but also the number of them that are strung together to say so little. The elements of a bad press release are so familiar that they seem obligatory. And therein lies the problem. Like a virus, they never die.
Here are five common flaws to avoid.
For immediate release. Stop the presses! A company just issued a press release. This line often tops releases. In most cases, the sense of urgency is a bit overblown. It’s an old joke in newsrooms to hold a printout as if it’s hot coal, saying “hot off the press” or something silly like that. You can get off to a better start by removing this piece of old furniture.
We are excited. We’ve all seen the “we are excited” quote so many times that it is easy to fall into the trap of sounding just like all the other excited people quoted in press releases the world over.
Whether you are thrilled, delighted or ecstatic is beside the point. Instead, make an appeal to the emotions of your readers. Why is your news interesting, important or beneficial to them?
Innovative solutions. This corporate phrase has done its duty and has earned its retirement. It conjures stock images of smiling office workers pointing at computer screens in a brightly lit office on the homepage of a once stylish website that’s due for an update.
If you think about it, all companies are in the business of providing solutions. Except for companies that are in the business of creating problems. And we know how well that goes. Instead, tell people what your company does and why it is good for them.
The self-aggrandizing quote. “We are thrilled about our exciting innovation, which is just the latest example of our company’s preeminent position in the solutions industry. It is no wonder we are the market leader in the thing that we do,” said Brag Toomuch, CEO of Boring & Bland.
Don’t be that guy. Use quotes as an opportunity to explain the big-picture significance of your announcement. Why does it matter to the world outside of your headquarters?
Continued on page three. There is no page three. The optimal length of a press release is one page. Two pages is a pardonable offense. Press releases are often written by committee. Passages get added as the work moves up the chain. Aim for one page. Accept the reality of two. Save page three for the “urgent, exciting, solutions” that you’ve “proudly” avoided.