If you scan a lot of news releases you’ll notice a high proportion of them use a similar sort of language. It’s the language of corporate speak, only to be found in PR and marketing materials and never used by anyone in real life. There seems to be a distinct lack of creativity when it comes to using adjectives in external communications. The worst culprits are the words ‘leading’ and ‘delighted’.
Why can’t PRs think of more words to use than ‘leading’ and ‘delighted’?! It seems like every company is a leader and every spokesperson is always gushing that they are delighted about winning a new client, hiring a new manager or winning an award. Why don’t you stop and think for a moment about whether this is really news and what you really feel about it.
Let’s take leading first – it’s actually ridiculous to use this adjective when you think about it, because so few companies ever substantiate or qualify this claim. Do you sell the most, do you have the most customers or members, are you the fastest growing, have you won the most awards, are you the most trusted by consumers? If you are, then say you are – don’t just say you are the number one. In any case, no journalist is ever, in a million years, going to write about your company in the exact same way as you have presented it in your carefully crafted news release.
Secondly, we come to ‘delighted’. If you look on twitter for #delighted there are an increasing bunch of well-respected journalists who tweet every time some hapless spokesperson uses ‘delighted’ in a quote. And the rest of us are all having a good laugh at the spokespeople’s (and PR’s) expense.
Are you really delighted? Can you not think of something else to say?
Being lazy about language makes your news look like an identikit communication and undermines what is a potentially serious or interesting message. Get creative and do yourself justice.
It’s not often that you get to directly experience two separate instances of dire social media communications within hours of each other, but this is what has happened to me today. Firstly, an organisation (that shall remain nameless) tweeted a link to a news release that was significant enough to attract the attention of national business editors. However, the shortened URL that was sent actually took me to the content management system interface of the site rather than the public version.
Talk about a potential disaster! This therefore meant that I had the potential to wreak havoc with the site (obviously I didn’t) but raised the important issue of checking URLs and links before they are distributed. That also goes for people who ‘re-tweet’ actually.
This was error number one. Error number two was the ‘new’ link that was circulated to rectify the situation, but which then contained all sorts of formatting errors. At least it did when using the Firefox browser, but not in Internet Explorer. The lesson? Make sure that your content works in all web browsers – not everyone uses Internet Explorer! Error number three was really just the icing on the cake, and that was to include the contact details of a member of staff that no longer worked for the organisation.
Case study number two happened a short time later. It started with the representative from an agency (again, that shall remain nameless) criticising an organisation for its web functionality. These criticisms were public and were not directed at the organisation, just tweeted in general. I for one don’t like these generalised gripes – if you’ve got an issue, take it to the company direct. If you aren’t, then you don’t really want the company to do anything about it, you just want to have a grumble, which is just self-indulgent nonsense.
Anyway, the organisation engaged with the person from the agency. A few tweets were exchanged and then (hilariously) the agency offered the organisation its services if said organisation wanted help with improving the web functionality. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t blame the organisation for politely declining the offer on the grounds that they would probably rather use a professional agency with discretion and integrity.