Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Industry Leader of…None

I recently did a search on PRNewswire for certain key terms that I know drive reporters crazy. Companies love to use these terms and PR writers often fall back on them as a descriptor when nothing else is appropriate.  That’s where the problem lies – these words are used as filler when nothing else comes to mind to make a more contextual or interesting descriptor.  So, a company launching a new product becomes an “industry leader” and launching an interesting new product is instead launching a “breakthrough” “innovation” with “advanced” capabilities.

These words might sound good on paper but, in fact, these words have become so ubiquitous that they actually mean nothing.  In my recent research through PR Newswire, I searched for these words in press releases issued on a specific day. The date I choose doesn’t really matter but for records sake, it was October 31, 2011 at 10:54 am. Bear in mind that the search ran was just for releases issued that day before 10:54 AM EDT. These are the results:
  • 1,253 “innovative”
  • 903 “advanced”
  • 202 “global leader”
  • 123 “breakthrough” or “groundbreaking”

We all know that there weren’t 1,253 truly innovative products or services announced on October 31, 2011, by 10:54 AM EDT. There probably weren’t 1,253 truly innovative products announced in all of 2011. So what does that mean for PR writers? It means using the word “innovative” to describe your company’s (or client’s) products isn’t that innovative anymore.

Every industry is packed with vernacular and buzz words that mean something to someone. The problem is when these buzz words go mainstream, they lose the original context that help define the meaning. Writing for PR should be about context, not buzzwords. You need to craft a story that helps readers understand how the announcement fits into their industry, their needs and their lives.

Mark Twain once said, “Don’t say the old lady screamed-bring her on and let her scream.” Translate this into PR writing and you get: “Don’t say the product is innovative, bring it out and tell us how and why it’s innovative.”

This is harder said than done because, let’s face it, not everything that a company announces is as groundbreaking as the company likes to think. That doesn’t mean it’s not news, it just means that you have to work a little harder to make it newsworthy.

No comments:

Post a Comment