Vanity, pomposity, complexity and a propensity for meaningless drivel are a few of the minor failings of the modern press release. But the quotes! The quotes are especially useless. It’s become the norm.
Let’s start with a slightly fictionalized quote that stinks of vanity.
“Conceited Corporation is thrilled to be working with Whatever Inc. on the implementation of our state-of-the-art technology to solve their every need,” said Dick Vain, CEO of Conceited Corp.
This, believe it or not, is only a slight exaggeration. Type in press releases into Google and read through the quotes. Shocking.
How about pomposity? Most of the corporate world is rife with pomposity. You see it in car commercials. All they seem to want to say is, “How great we are.” That’s OK if someone ELSE is saying it, but it doesn’t work well in advertising if you say it yourself. Because anyone can say it.
Yet quote after quote yammers on like this:
“As the market leader in this field, we feel certain that our market leading technology will continue to lead the market,” added Mr. Vain.
No one such prints self-serving hype.
How about complexity? Oh, how the techies and engineers love it. I once had a gig writing press releases for a computer chip company. They only wanted to talk about obscure chip qualities that few would understand. They would send out these releases to a large list. Only about 10 of the sources would be able to comprehend them.
And then there is the jargon-side of complexity. You get these slick-sounding, buzzword invested statements that are all style and no content.
“The proactive nature of enterprise-class systems makes it imperative that a paradigm shift occurs in an out-of-the-box manner,” said Robert Vague III, Chief Engineer at Nebulosity Inc. “A win-win situation using Web 2.0 in conjunction with the smart grid and a sustainability mandate will go a long way towards the remediation of diversity constraints by eliciting favorable outcomes.”
The authors of such statements are confessing that they would rather sound good than actually communicate.
That was one example of complicated and meaningless gibberish. But some don’t even bother with buzzwords. You sometimes get press announcements which are written due to some dictate like, you have to put out a press release every month, or every week or every day in some cases. You get quotes like this:
“Boring Inc. wishes to announce that it continues to exist, though it actually has nothing worthwhile to say in a press release,” said Dorothy Dreary, Chief Monotony Officer for Uninspiron Limited. “We promise to continue to inundate editors with useless press releases.”
Let’s end with a reminder of the purpose of a press release. It is there to inform the press so that they will either publish it as is, will summarize it and use it, or will become interested enough to contact you. The quotes are important. You want a quote that is worth quoting. No self-respecting reporter would ever use anything vaguely similar to one of the above examples. Select quotes that are worth including in articles. Make the executive say something worth picking up. Corporate propaganda about your leadership or “how great we are” doesn’t cut it.
Instead, how about a quote about the problems in the market, an ongoing trend, or even a prediction about the future. But those probably wouldn’t get through the legal side check. The only thing that does is pomp, no circumstance, vanity, complex or vapid statements, and meaningless drivel. Ah yes, it is probably the lawyers that are to blame, once again.