We are smarter than our readers – How not to write press releases part 3
“Look, seriously, I have read this text four times and I don’t get it”. “Are they trying to insult me?”. – Those are only two out of many authentic reactions I have heard throughout years when press releases were packed with jargon. Today I would like to approach a very common mistake in press releases committed by marketers, PR managers, agencies, or business owners.
Last week I wrote about attitude problems in communicating with media gatekeepers and editors. Things might get nasty when the tone of a press release is bossy and arrogant. It’s a lot better to keep it modest, friendly, and exceptionally attractive when it comes to content.
Mistake nr 4: We are smarter than our readers
In the very beginning of my media career path, I was a radio reporter. I covered press conferences, demonstrations, and other locally important events. For over a year I have learned rudiments from radio veterans. I would like to share one of them with you. It was after a court trial between two political enemies. After a judge announced a verdict, journalists surrounded the man who lost in the trial. His comment was short but unclear for anyone who is not familiar with the law. Very experienced and respected radio reporter asked him: “What does it mean?”. Obviously, she understood him well, but she knew that most of the listeners of that radio station would not get it. And she asked for an easy explanation on their behalf. That was a valuable lesson for me. No matter if it is an article, radio or TV news, or a press release – it can’t be smarter than the target audience.
I know it might be tempting. When you are a super professional in your field, you are an authentic enthusiast, you would like to show your knowledge and competence to the world. That’s why press releases are often full of jargon, which is very hard to follow by a journalist/editor and impossible to understand by an average reader. In that case, the editor puts himself in the readers’ shoes, so:
- if the editor doesn’t get it, the target audience won’t get it
- if the editor feels lost and confused because of the jargon in the release, so would the target audience
- if the editor is sensitive and doesn’t like to feel embarrassed by a marketer/PR manager/business owner, the target audience also might feel embarrassed and daft
Therefore, unless the target audience for your product is a narrow group of specialists within your sector, avoid jargon in press releases. Otherwise, your PR will build barriers, instead of destroying them.
I have seen plenty of press releases created by agencies, PR managers, small business owners. As long as they were trying to be too smart and detached from a reader, the risk of rejection was very high.
What to do instead?
- Attract with nice and eye-catchy form
- Amaze with vivid and easy to follow language
- Underline the values that your product will bring to your audience
- …and most of all – Tell a story
p.s. You might also hire a copywriter to do it for you 🙂