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Marketing speak and the press release: A recipe for poor coverage

Matt Serra

Over the course of my career, I have written hundreds of press releases and reviewed and edited even more. Over that time, I have come to appreciate one thing more than anything else in a press release: simplicity.  Companies often want their press releases to read like marketing materials for the C-suite. However, in doing so, the releases often get bogged down with hyperbole, big words, and quotes from every partner, analyst and company executive.  The result: a press release that may seem impressive to a product manager or other internal stakeholder, but one that makes little to no sense outside of the walls of your organization. 

The headline and first two paragraphs are the most critical parts of any press release.  We often lose credibility by using too much marketing speak.  It is imperative to keep the release simple if you want people to read it and take away your key messages.  For example, if it is a new product release, state what you are launching and the primary benefits in simple terms up front.  Keep your sentences short and crisp, and use strong verbs to create excitement.  Unfortunately, many companies can’t resist the lure of using many of the terms they use in a product launch roadmap or PowerPoint presentation.  Some of the most over-used, and unnecessary terms, that diminish the readability (and credibility) of a press release include:

Solution – Solution is a word that is over used in technology press releases in particular.  However, it is vague and hackney.  Journalists have complained about its use more than any other term.  Companies often add the word after a product name when it is not needed.  Speaking of which . .

Offering - This word is frequently added after a product line name, but it adds no value or meaning to the statement.  Simply omit from any copy and you will see that the description will be clearer, shorter and easier for a reader to understand.

Innovative – Using the word innovative to describe a product is one of the most common and least effective ways to show innovation.  Call out the industry-firsts and compelling reasons why your product or service is innovative rather than saying so.  If your product truly is innovative, then illustrate why.

Best-in-class – This is marketing speak that is better suited for the product datasheet, PowerPoint presentation and other marketing materials. 

Truly – I have seen this term used in front of words like innovative, and it detracts from the statement’s credibility.  If you are saying it “truly is” then is everything else in the release false?

Utilize – You likely say “use” in conversation.  It’s simpler, shorter and a more effective verb.

Pleased to announce the introduction of – This is one of the most boring and least effective ways to open a press release.  No one cares if you are “pleased” to announce something.  Rather, state that you are “launching” or “introducing” something, or better yet, think of a more active/powerful verb based on the company news.

While issuing a press release that is too long and difficult to understand will result in poor coverage, more importantly, it will be ineffective in delivering your key messages.  Remember that your prospects, customers, investors and other stakeholders don’t have time to read every paragraph and slog through every descriptor and adjective to discern the news.  Simplifying your release will not only increase your chances for coverage, but it will also get your message across more clearly.