By Linda ForrestOur founder and leader, Francis Moran, has always been a stickler about not filling client releases with meaningless buzzwords, and rightly so. There are some words and phrases used to market technology that are overused and virtually meaningless. Chief on this list? “Solution.” His dislike for this word is well documented – even on our blog, Francis Moran & Associates, in this earlier post.
Every time the word “solution” is suggested — and it is suggested almost every time — I implore the workshop participants to imagine the word doesn’t exist. “Now,” I ask them,” What is it that you actually do?” The answers immediately get much sharper and focused and far more meaningful.
We also work with our clients to explain the press release favourite, “leading,” which inevitably makes it into draft copy when returned with their comments. Is your company the sales leader in its market? The first to bring a particular technology to market? Leading how?
So, we were not at all surprised when it was recently reported that the words “leading” and “solution” were the most frequently used in press releases over a 24 hour period. “Leading” clocked in with 776 instances, while “solution” came second with 622.
Here is the full list:
1. leading (776)
2. solution (622)
3. best (473)
4. innovate / innovative / innovator (452)
5. leader (410)
6. top (370)
7. unique (282)
8. great (245)
9. extensive (215)
10. leading provider (153)
11. exclusive (143)
12. premier (136)
13. flexible (119)
14. award winning / winner (106)
15. dynamic (95)
16. fastest (70)
17. smart (69)
18. state of the art (65)
19. cutting edge (54)
20. biggest (54)
21. easy to use (51)
22. largest (34)
23. real time (8)
While some of these words are a worthwhile use of press release real estate, many are soggy buzzwords and their inclusion does not do your company any favours. Many journalists file releases with too many of these in the first paragraph directly into the trash.
Whether you’re on the PR side or the client side, you can follow a few guidelines that will help you avoid falling into the same traps as your competitors. While writing effective news releases is part of the skill set that your PR team should bring to the table, company leaders have told us on occasion that their PR teams can’t write (a frightening concept, to be sure.) While there’s more to it than you might think, even those PR teams that can’t write can generate a passable if not optimal release by following these simple guidelines:
Avoid buzzwords, especially in your headline
Marketing lore has it that five times as many people read the headline as do the copy: make your headline count.
Cover the 5 Ws
If you cover who, what, when, why and where in your release, without hyperbole and sticking to the facts, you should be, at least, covering your bases.
optimise your release for search engines
Provide the media with what they need to cover you
Links embedded in the release to relevant landing pages, customer case studies, images and additional materials make it easier for the media to cover you. Better still, ensure that your company’s newsroom adheres to best practices.
In our opinion, the development of news releases is best left to the experts, but if those on the client side and the PR side can align on some basic points like those above, the news releases being sent out – which represent the parties on both sides – will be construed by the media as useful, well-written and provide them with what they need to cover your company, as well as a clear idea of how to get more information, set up interviews, and find what they need from your online newsroom.
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