When writing press releases it can be tempting to slip in all sorts of clever-sounding buzzwords. It’s quick, easy and when you don’t have all the time in the world, shoehorning in a few clichés can seem like a good way to grab the attention of journalists.
But this is likely to backfire. Journalists are busy people who can receive hundreds of emails a day. Another press release full of tired buzzwords that doesn’t add novel value isn’t going to stand out.
A quick reminder about what is meant by novel value in this case:
- Never-seen-before-by-the-world product or service – e.g. iPads
- A company that releases a new product/service in an entirely new category – e.g. Uber launches Uber Eats
- New revisions made to existing products and services – e.g. the latest Apple Smartwatch
Fresh ResearchNew and exciting research can catch a journalist’s eye. If you can put together some unique research from your field with a newsworthy headline and pitch it to the right journalist, you have a good chance of getting coverage. Above are just two examples of novel value. There are others, such as sending a release to react to a crisis, but that’s a discussion for another day. The important thing is to make your press release as strong as possible so as to get the best chance of coverage. And you want to make sure that you write your press release in a way that persuades rather than bores. Here are 9 public relations clichés to avoid in your press releases:
We are an award-winning agency
When composing a press release it’s important to ask “Who cares?” So if you are an award-winning agency, it needs to be relevant to the audience you’re targeting. In this day and age there are so many awards that being an award-winning agency isn’t really a big deal. But social proof is a thing, so if you have won a particularly coveted award (and recently – not ten years ago) then it could be worth mentioning – but leave it nestled in the boilerplate (the text usually at the bottom of the press release that can be reused in new contexts) not in the main body of the press release.
Cutting-edge technology “refers to technological devices, techniques or achievements that employ the most current and high-level IT developments”. If you are pitching to a journalist who writes about technology, it’s likely that he/she receives a lot of press releases claiming technology is “cutting-edge”.
Instead of using such hackneyed language, best to simply highlight the specific features, backstory, users, case studies etc. This is what the journalist will really want to understand: what makes the product interesting to their audience.
This also applies to state of the art – another cliché best avoided.
This phrase can work if you’re a huge corporation releasing a press release on Business Wire. If you’re reading this, that’s unlikely to be you. So if you’re teaming up with someone to launch an exciting venture, explain what it is, how it will interest the audience and leave out jargon like strategic partnership
Now this one is pretty common and many of us are guilty of using it far too often. But in truth, it’s a bit unimaginative. Revolutionary means “involving or causing a complete or dramatic change”. Does your product/service do this? If it does, great. If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and don’t call it revolutionary.
Content is king
Needs no further explanation. It’s such a cliché there are even cliches made from the cliché – “content is not king” “content is still king”.
This worked in 2008 when Silicon Valley was still a place in America few people had heard of. The word “disruptive” was new and exciting and usually got you a call-back from technology journalists keen to discover the next new thing. A decade down the line, the word is overused and a bit embarrassing. Avoid.
Just no. You shouldn’t have to reiterate that your product/service adds value. That should be obvious in the first paragraph. This cliché is simply not needed if you’ve written your press release correctly.
Unless there really has been a breakthrough – e.g. an entirely new treatment to cure cancer, this one should be avoided too. Much like revolutionary, it promises much and can be hard to live up to.
Innovative market leader
Innovative is another lazy, overused word, but it’s not a total crime. “Innovative market leader” on the other hand is a big no no. First, who says your product or service is a market leader? Unless you’re quoting someone else best not to big yourself up using unnecessary jargon.
Also this phrase sounds quite corporate and it’s best to veer away from such language if you’re an entrepreneur.
So there you go, 9 public relations cliches to avoid in your press releases. But before you go, remember you can get your point across and stand out without using hyperbolic language And you don’t need to hire an expensive agency to launch a successful PR campaign you can write your press releases and pitch in-house – it’s just a question of understanding the process.
A few tips:
- Don’t use language where you don’t need to. Keep sentences concise. Avoid fancy words unless absolutely necessary.
- Who, Where, What, When should be condensed into the first paragraph/bulletpoints at the top. The journalist needs to be able to absorb the key points quickly.
- Simplicity is the goal. The average person needs to be able to understand your press release. Imagine you’re explaining your product/service to a teenager. Remember that the journalist will be referring to the release when writing the piece. All of the information needs to be there and easy to understand.