Thursday, July 22, 2004

Haystacks and Jabberwocky

Clients in general and client PR contacts in particular pride themselves in communicating the various “interesting” details of their product offerings or company news. Sort of like proud parents. Completely understandable, given the time and energy invested.

But just as some proud parents are hopelessly unable to stop jawing about even the most mundane accomplishments of their progeny, clients sometimes allow too many supporting details get in the way of a good story.

Editors confronted with this scenario while scanning the morning’s press releases quickly regard the crush of supporting details as being akin to a haystack, in which a needle (read: the news) must be buried. Not fond of unraveling tedious mysteries before their second cup of coffee, they simply mosey on over to the next release.

Before that happens, the company’s PR firm better step up to the plate and correct the problem. That means grabbing a pitchfork (delete key) and reducing the pile of what Lewis Carroll called “Jabberwocky.” That’s a made up word for “nonsense.”

Perhaps Mark Twain said it best. He once wrote a lengthy letter and concluded it this way:  “If I had more time I would have written less.”

Now, not to pick on any one company, but I did a quick google news search for press releases to find examples for quick discussion. Below is one of the first to pop up:

“IRVINE, Calif., July 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Broadcom Corporation (Nasdaq: BRCM - News), a leading provider of highly integrated semiconductor solutions enabling broadband communications, today announced the Broadcom® RAIDCore(TM) BC4000 series RAID host bus adapter (HBA), delivering the industry's most reliable, high performance Serial ATA (SATA) RAID controller cards currently available. Offering the industry's most extensive SATA-based RAID feature set, the BC4000 RAID controller cards are an excellent choice for small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and enterprise workgroups looking to improve data integrity and data access without the high costs usually associated with enterprise-class RAID functionality. Broadcom's new storage controller cards are available through authorized Bell Microproducts' resellers and other major distributors worldwide.”
No disrespect, but if the desired goal of Broadcom Corporation was to spark violent seizures in those brave enough to read this opening paragraph, it was a thrashing success. Most editors view this 102-word opener as an enormous haystack. A giant pile of jabberwocky.

Another quick search found the next one. Note: this one involves twice as many companies:

STRATFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 22, 2004--Dictaphone Corporation's Communications Recording Systems (CRS)(TM)) Group today announced that it has signed a joint marketing agreement with Lucent Technologies.

Hmmm. Just 19 words. Two companies signed a marketing agreement.

The moral of the story? In press releases, including the headlines, less is more. Generally speaking, if your “news” release makes an editor’s eyes water, you might as well save some money and post your press release on the inside of a trash can.

Your company works too hard to develop its products and its reputation to alienate its most important audience.


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