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April 9, 2012


Why do your press releases look like cheap Chinese replicas ?

by Tom De Baere

Cheap chines black market iPhone replicas

Do you wonder why your target audience is not reading your press releases? Are your press releases filled with company jargon and brand names?

Are you writing about how good your products and your company are?

With some simple tips your can easily make them really impactful to your business…

As I mentioned in a previous post, your buyers want to hear how we solve their problems, in their own words. And whenever you write, yes also in official PR, you should try to avoid industry jargon or company jargon. Some examples of words that are overused are groundbreaking, industry-standard, cutting-edge, flexible, revolutionary, market leader, cutting edge, state-of-the-art… This is commonly known as the “gobbelybook” as first touted by David Meerman Scott.

 Other classics are:

  • Streamline your business processes
  • Achieve your business objectives

Let’s test your press releases

I realized this when I was comparing a press release of 2 competitors both active in the same industry and going for the same market: you can easily replace the names of your own products with products of the competitor, and the name of your company by the name of the competitor, and there you have it: you now have a press release from your competitor. Do not get me wrong, the press release of your competitors are not better. They are most probably worse ;-).

Let me test something with you: just stop reading this document for a moment, and check your website for some of your own press releases.


Did your really do this? if not, go and do it !


Ah, you are back. And? Maybe they are already perfect, but I you are reading the press release of what could be a press release from your competitor, then there is room for improvement.

The wrong words

What would a journalist, or buyer think when he reads a press release like this? Oh, no! Not yet another flexible, scalable, groundbreaking, industry-standard, cutting-edge product from a market leading, well positioned company! There even have been studies on this topic. In a recent study, conducted by Dave Schmidt, VP for PR Services at Smith-Winchester, Inc., these where the top overused words:

  • Leading
  • We’re excited / We’re pleased / We’re thrilled
  • Solutions
  • … a wide range of …
  • Unparalleled
  • Unsurpassed

The good thing is that you now realize that you can do this different, and provide valuable content to your buyers also through PR and News releases.

Use the right words

Although you will have to learn by doing in producing great content, here is some advice on what I think good content should have, or not have.

  • Use inclusive language (our industry, our customers, we, us)
  • Start your sentences about your buyers, and not your products. If you can try should to avoid mentioning your company or your products but purely talk about what problems our products solve. Because your buyers are not stupid and they will immediately make the link between the article and what your company can do to solve their problems
  • Avoid corporate jargon as much as possible. e.a. if you have given a certain technology a name, first give the value of the technology and secondly mention the name of the technology if that brand is important to you.
  • Do not use meaningless words and statements, as described above.
  • When you talk about your target audience, talk as if we talk to a relative, but remain friendly and familiar but also respectful. A little bit like the writing style of this post. In corporate press releases the style can be a bit stiffer, that’s for sure because that is a reflection of the professionalism of your company.
  • Think about what you yourself do not like when reading a PR. Probably our buyers won’t like it either. 

Tell a different story

The point of developing a story is to differentiate from our competition. Yep, it is always about being DIFFERENT, and not about having the same story about e.a. Efficiency told incrementally better. If we tell the same story as our competitor but with a slightly better punch line, we simply create a sequel.

Obviously that is easier said than done. But here are some questions that can provide a guideline in creating great content:

  • What does your market look like?
  • Where are your different competitors situated? What are the current solutions available?
  • What problems are they faced with today?
  • What if we could solve that one big problem of your customers with our brand? You might be just a small piece of the solution puzzle, but if you first show the larger picture of where your products or technologies are situated, then the reader will easier understand how you can contribute to solving that one big problem.
  • Why are people not using that solution today? What is the pain that problem causes today?
  • Who within your company has gone out and thought about a potential solution? If we make it personal and concrete e.a. your CTO, CMO, an engineer, … we make the whole story much more alive.
  • What is your differentiating point of view to this problem?
  • What are the different challenges that need to be overcome?
  • What have we been doing behind the scenes to find solutions to these challenges? 

Make your PR agency change, or change your PR agency

If you are working with a PR agency, show them this blog post and ask them what they think. If they are any good, they will know about this topic, and they will be able to change your PR to the better. And if they cannot deliver, you might need to change to another PR agency.

Now you have made the first step to great content

Many of the tips I listed above I found on the web or in books. I have listed them in this post, and I hope they are useful to you. Below are some of the most influential sources around today on content marketing and social media. These sources provide meaningful strategy and practical advise on how to do “todays” B2B marketing:

  • Managing Content Marketing – Robert Rose and Loe Pulizzi
  • The New Rules of Marketing and PR – David Meerman Scott
  • All Marketers are Liars – Seth Godin
  • The Conversation Manager – Steven Van Belleghem
  • The worldwide web and 1000s of bloggers that have influenced the above people
  • My own interpretation and experience.

These blogs and books have influenced my personal view on marketing and content in general, and I have come to put these tips into practice myself.

Trust me, once you take this tips into practice, you will immediately see the difference. And your target audience will notice you!

Which of these tips will you put into practice? Anything that you want to add?

Best regards,

Tom De Baere