Start Making Sense

February 19, 2020 by Dave Haynes

Emails from PR and marketing people drop endlessly into my various inboxes, all day, everyday, and it is unfortunate how much of what I get I can’t understand.

It is far too rare that I get a press release or pitch that just says, very simply, this is what this is about, what it does and how it works, and why you and your readers should care.

It is far too common that what I get is a jumble of jargon, puffery and antiquated structure that asks me to read something three or four times, just to understand what the company is going on about.

This happens with everyone from start-ups to Fortune 1000s.

The budget-strained start-ups try to write the PR themselves and usually fail to realize clarity or get across the point.

The big companies are so mired in the ancient ways of PR and media relations, and have so many interests to please, that what comes out is tedious, full of delighted and thrilled statements, and not all that clear, because there are buzzwords and power-phrases that somehow need to be in the statements.

I note this because if your company is doing PR and hoping for coverage, I’m very unlikely to do anything with it if I can’t figure out WTF the copy is about, or why I should care. There are numerous copy-paste publications that are happily spoon-fed press releases, but that only passes the confusion on to readers.

Just getting placement in a publication may be a metric for the PR people who wrote it and sent it around, but it does little or nothing for the vendor if anyone trying to read it is going cross-eyed, or slipping into a coma.  

Here’s a really simple approach to doing PR/Press for technology companies: 

If they get it, and can rattle off what it is about and the value of that product, service, advancement or partnership, awesome!

But there’s a good chance you will get kicked back a variety of responses, some close and some way off. Some people will say they have no idea.

I have read two press releases today that completely baffled me, and I’m arguably one of the most likely people to get a quick grasp of what these vendors were apparently touting.

If I write a press release, I look at it like a newspaper story (cuz that’s my background). The lead paragraph’s intent is to either intrigue readers, or provide a summary that compels people to read further. 

If you are going to make the effort to do PR and Press – and if you want to build awareness and be part of consideration lists – make the effort to ensure what you are sending out is clear and meaningful.

If you don’t, your material either won’t be understood, or not even be read. There’s a very good chance it won’t make it into 16:9.

If you are a boomer like me, you may remember the 1984 Talking Heads concert film, Stop Making Sense.

When it comes to tech PR, it is squarely in the interest of marketers to Start Making Sense.

  1. Great article! We are in the process of writing a few articles – Thanks for the simple approach!

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