OPINION: 'Tech PROs should drop the drivel and stand up to their clients'

Banish 'corporate bollocks' for 'common sense and plain English' in UK press releases, advises Chris Lee.

Does this sound familiar? 'Unheard-of Company X (Nasdaq:UComp X08) today announced the availability of market-leading fault-tolerant 24x7 enterprise solution unheard of company X innovator to optimize system integration...'

This drivel continues for a 70-word opening paragraph, by which time you find yourself lying on the office floor, blue-faced with asphyxia.

How can a tech PR professional "sell in" a press release when the US HQ forbids you to Anglicise it beyond swapping the odd 'z' for 's'?

I am an angry ex-journalist who gets driven up the wall by corporate bollocks. Even worse, there are too many UK firms that appear to want to follow suit.

It is the responsibility of the PR industry to educate in-house marketing people that press releases should be designed with the audience at the core, not the egos of C-level executives or channel partners.

Unless you are happy with coverage on www.postyourownturgidreleasehere.com and no-where else, of course. Any respectable journalist will tell you the same thing.

If the demand is for quality editorial coverage in the UK, then PR people must train clients that style and content has to be suited to our media.

What does a journalist want? A story of interest to the publication's readers. Who are the readers? Predominantly tech buyers and professionals. What do they want to know? Something relevant to their market about how a product or service is going to save money, improve efficiency and make them look good internally. What don't they want? Corporate drivel, backslapping and internal promotions.

It is not just about the style, it is about the vocabulary, too. Overuse of certain words, such as 'solution', has led to Private Eye giving space to firms who offer 'complete glazing solutions' when a simple 'window cleaner' would suffice.

All that is required is common sense and plain English. This is PR, not advertising. We need to tailor comms and stand up to our clients, regardless of their home market's style.

Clients can no longer expect us to send out the same old hackneyed, self-serving rubbish and then wonder why little or no coverage appeared. We are consultants; we are paid to consult. It is about time we all did our jobs.

Chris Lee is a director at Loewy-owned tech agency Rainier PR.

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