In 20 years as an analyst, I received 10,000 press releases. I acted on four of them. But PR pros still craft releases and send them to wire services to clutter up everybody’s inboxes.
They’re not just poorly read but poorly written, like this delete-provoking release from SAP, “hybris Monetizes Digital Transformation with Innovative Billing Solution.” As usual, I highlight the sins in a Google doc: vague words in green, jargon in purple, meaningless filler in grey, meaningless quotes in orange, and passive in yellow. (There are a few typos, too.) Here’s what you can learn from this:
1 Avoid press releases altogether. A large company like SAP should announce news in a blog post and email influencers with a short media alert. A less-known company should select and contact analysts, journalists, and bloggers individually.
2 If you must do a release, can the jargon. Do these confusing sentences mean anything or influence anybody?
As the digital transformation revolution reaches maturity, companies have the opportunity to shift business models within their industry disruptively to create new sources of defensible competitive advantage. . . . hybris software, an SAP company, provides omni-channel customer engagement and commerce solutions.
Imagine if press releases said stuff like “Our software allows you to bill in flexible ways. Our company enables commerce in multiple channels.” Readers might actually understand what they’re saying.
3 Pro-forma quotes impress no-one. All press releases require a quote from a company executive. The executives don’t write these quotes, the PR folks do. In this case, Brian Walker, a smart guy I used to work with, supposedly says:
“. . . Now, customers have greater options for purchasing products and engaging with brands while companies enjoy a closer relationship with their customers, a constant cash flow . . . The integration of SAP hybris Billing with the customer engagement and commerce platform fosters this relationship, eliminating the need for a separate platform to service these new revenue models while also providing the speed and efficiency needed to be successful.”
Brian doesn’t talk like that. Regardless, all quotes of this kind say nothing and are not credible because they’re company boilerplate. Imagine our shock and delight if the quote instead sounded like a human: “hybris software now works with other SAP elements, which makes your billing more flexible.”
4 Nobody’s buying your extreme adjectives. Why bother including words these in a press release:
radically change the customer experience . . . sophisticated multi-party settlement. . . close integration . . . superlative customer care . . . highly technology, connected products . . . innovative pricing . . . state-of-the-art customer data management
Put the adjectives away. In a press release they’re even more meaningless than usual.
Short version: When you remove the bullshit padding out this press release, here’s what it says:
Our hybris billing product now lets you bill for subscriptions and the other pricing models appropriate for digital products. It connects with suppliers and partners, not just customers, and it works with the rest of SAP, too.
This actually means something. If you sent it in an email, people might actually read it.
Seen some creative press releases, blog posts, emails, or reports? Or some awful ones stuffed with bullshit? Send them my way.
Photo: Don O’Brien via Flickr