PR Tip: Kill the Corporate Speak!
One of the biggest mistakes corporate public relations departments make with their news releases is that they write their news releases the same way they write in-house communications and memos. These communications are formal, wordy, boring, have lots of clutter (unnecessary information) and don’t get to the point until about the middle of page two.
This style of communication is not received in a newsroom the same way it is received inside your company. At your company you have a captive audience. They must read your formal, wordy, boring, cluttered, never-get-to-the-point memo because their jobs depend upon keeping up with and following company directives.
In contrast, we in the media are not obligated to read your formal, wordy, boring, cluttered, never-get-to-the-point document. When it comes to newsroom assignment managers who are already pressed for time, there is no such thing as page two of a news release! If you haven’t piqued our interest in the first paragraph or two, you’re done! Game over! Your news release gets released into the large, blue plastic laundry-sized recycle bin.
Having said that let me now sympathize with you because I know many of you are caught in a corporate Catch-22 pitting you between the media and your CEO. Oftentimes, public relations folks write news releases which are aimed at pleasing the CEO because without the approval of the CEO the news release doesn’t get sent, right?
The problem is that the CEO knows absolutely nothing about effective news releases or public relations for that matter. The CEO thinks the news release should include information about ‘the company’s proud history’, its ‘commitment to excellence’, its position as an ‘integral part of the community’ and all that other ‘cutting-edge’ crap.
Such corporate speak might work in the boardroom but it doesn’t play very well in the newsroom. I know you get the point because I am sure you have all had the pleasure of being stuck in more than a few meetings in the Bored Room! Furthermore, when we receive boring news releases about an event the company should be excited about, we say to ourselves, “Wow, if they’re this boring on paper I’ll bet they’re the real life of the party in person!”
The bottom line here is to remember to write for the media. We’re outgoing, friendly, gregarious, excited and energetic. If we weren’t we wouldn’t be in this business. We don’t operate with a stiff, formal corporate mentality. We get excited about the stories we cover. So get excited about your own story!
You would do well to delicately educate your CEO or immediate superior to the difference between in-house communication and news releases for the media.
Anonymously laying this article on his desk couldn't hurt, could it?