For Immediate Release: More BS

I was reading a press release yesterday that included the phrases world-class; highly respected; global leadership; award-winning; innovative platform; new patent-pending capabilities; around the world; in optimal fashion; and worst of all: a pace unparalleled in the industry.

As Tosh might do in his video breakdown, let's examine each of these phrases individually and understand more clearly why these highly subjective claims don't belong in any press release.

world-class: This assumes that you have scoured the world and examined each and every product in your category and decided that there is a vague standard called world-class into which your product fits. What does that even mean? That there are various other levels of "classes" above and below this one, such as Five-But-Not-Seven-Continents-Class? Western-Europe-But-Let's-Not-Count-Those-Laggards-in-Spain, Italy, Greece- and-Cyprus-Class? Nations-West-of-the-Urals-Class? Why not Cosmos-Class or Milky-Way-Class?  Just as meaningless.



highly respected: Really? By whom? The guys who wrote the press release? The local United Way? All the Members of the Business Roundtable? What about the customers who were NOT happy with the product?

global leadership: This assumes that people in Namibia, Belarus, Suriname and Bhutan have agreed that this is the very best product of its kind. Did you ask them?

award-winning: If winning an award still means something in this pay-to-play world in which we now find ourselves, you might as well tell us which one and let us decide who really cares. I know lots of companies that left dozens of awards on the walls of the real estate they vacated when they collapsed. I especially like the humanitarian awards that you get because you gave someone a ton of money and are being honored at a dinner that will require all of your friends and colleagues to pony up contributions in order to attend and maintain their preexisting business relationship with you.

innovative platform: If there are two more overused-to-the-point-of-meaninglessness words in the English language -- used either individually or in combination -- I can't think of them. Innovation is a highly subjective term, too quickly applied to the most mundane incremental product changes or improvements. But it makes you sound serious and important, right? There was a time when a platform was something you stood on in the rain while cursing the late Metro North trains. Now it means anything and everything to do with anything and everything in technology. Call it what it is: The bullshit term of the early second decade of the 21st century.

new patent-pending capabilities: I suppose that because you have filed for a patent, we should be mightily impressed and assume that it is because you are SO innovative. Nobody really cares -- and the fact that the patents are still pending makes us think maybe they aren't all that innovative to begin with.

around the world: Really? Even in Namibia, Belarus, Suriname and Bhutan?

in optimal fashion: Sorry -- I was looking for a vendor that offered sub-optimal products and service just so I will know what optimal really is. What if I find someone who offers Ultimate optimal? Also, who decides what is optimal? I should think the clients, but I guess you decided this for them. Nice.

a pace unparalleled in the industry: Oh my. This assumes a profound insight into every growth or development rate of every other business like yours. And pace is such a squishy, again, subjective word. How can we be sure you have done the due diligence to make this statement? Can you show us comparative charts and graphs that support this claim? I doubt it.

The bottom line: Press releases (even if they are dying a slow social-media-induced death) are supposed to communicate information. They are not meant to impress or market yourselves. No one has better bullshit detectors than seasoned reporters, which is why you will NEVER see this kind of fluffy language reflected in their stories. So why try to force it in the first place? All you are doing is losing credibility. And that is hard to reestablish.

7 comments about "For Immediate Release: More BS".
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  1. Uriah Av-Ron from Oasis Public Relations, April 5, 2013 at 7:51 a.m.

    Great post, George. Though, as you know, sometimes we're asked to include some of those terms.

    Jakob Nielsen got it right when he said:

    …look at how you present the company in the main copy on the home page. Rewrite the text to say exactly the opposite . Would any company ever say that? If not, you’re not saying much with your copy, either.

  2. Abby Ziff from WebMD, April 5, 2013 at 11:50 a.m.

    Great post George! I just have one question: were they "excited" to make that announcement?

  3. George Simpson from George H. Simpson Communications, April 5, 2013 at 12:16 p.m.

    no but there were "thrilled" to have a new venture partner

  4. meg brossy from performance strategies, April 5, 2013 at 5:22 p.m.

    George, great article. There is nothing worse than chest pounding nor the use of "marketing jargon" that doesn't communicate a darn thing. Good for you for calling it out!

  5. Corey Kronengold from NYIAX, April 5, 2013 at 5:22 p.m.

    C'mon, George. You mean you were "proof reading" the one you wrote, my friend.

    Dang clients make us do it!

    Great piece. Hits way too close to home, as you know.

  6. Tim Orr from Barnett Orr Marketing Group, Inc., April 5, 2013 at 6:58 p.m.

    Once, I told a client that the only people who were going to read his release were himself and his competitor. Finally, he agreed to change it to say something.

  7. John Casey from Carmichael Industries, April 8, 2013 at 11:52 a.m.

    BS terms: "working class" and "fair share". Evidently the population of seasoned journalists getting their work into the mainstream is startlingly close to zero. From long before Benghazi & Sequestration it's been horrendous. The AP is no longer permitted to use "illegal" + "alien" or "immigrant"; apparently not enough obfuscation in those terms. Stossel does a darn good job, though.

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