Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Holmes Report, the World’s Leading Blog…: I just got a press release. I won’t identify the company or the agency that sent it, in part because I have no wish to embarrass anyone and in part because what annoyed me was so commonplace that it could have been any company, any agency.

The first line indicated that “XYZ Corporation [which I had never heard of], the world’s leading provides of [some obscure service], had retained ABC Agency to handle its public relations.”

I have no way of knowing whether XYZ Corporation is in fact the world leader in whatever it does. I don’t really know what it does and I don’t know how the company and its agency are defining the word leader. Is it the biggest in terms of sales? Does it have the most advanced technology? I assume it’s neither of those things, because if it was they could have told me and it would have been information I could have used, whereas “world leader” is a term so vague and boastful that I have to edit it out.

It seems to me the first thing a PR firm should do when it’s named agency of record for one of these companies is explain, politely, how stupid it is to go around using a phrase like “world leader” in a press release. Most journalists are going to edit it out; if they don’t, it’s still not going to provide any useful information to an end-user of the news, except to suggest that the company in question has an obnoxious self-regard.

Why do PR firms allow this kind of language into press releases? Because there are a handful of reporters out there too lazy to edit it out? Because they believe somebody’s going to be impressed? Because they don’t want to annoy the client? Because they genuinely don’t know any better?I’m serious. I really want to know. I assume some of you work for agencies, and some have probably included some similar phrasing in a press release. Why?


  • At 11:45 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Paul - The fluff is pretty bad and it's probably a combination of these things.

    A client once edited a news release referencing a set of tools in some new software. They were pulled together from previous works so he wanted to say they were from the company's "vaunted treasure chest" of proven products.

    VAUNTED TREASURE CHEST?! Have you ever seen vaunted used in a news release? Haunted perhaps around October...flaunted MAYBE.

    I nixed it. He asked why. I politely told him it would decrease the credibility of the news. He let it go. Or should I say he acquiesced?

    Thanks for the link and for the bad example. Send us other examples. We're trying to create an entertaining and educational resource for PR folks.

  • At 7:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If companies evaluated the effectiveness of their press releases -- i.e checked the ratio of output to outcome -- i.e. how many releases they send out vs how many are actually picked up this sort of BS might stop. What a waste of time, effort and energy!

  • At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Unquestionably, most of the thousands of news releases that are cranked out each day are written "inwardly" to fluff up the ego or play to a client or a boss. Most are pitched in the trash by journalists who know real news from hype. News releases are a crutch from a bygone era used by PR people who lack the contacts or know-how to legitimately pitch a story.

    By the way ... I always thought The Holmes Reporter WAS "the World's Leading Blog..."

  • At 1:28 PM, Blogger Scott Baradell said…

    Paul, you can't be the "world's leading blog," that's my line. How bout you can be the "world's fastest-growing blog" instead?

  • At 2:13 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Anonymous, I disagree.

    First of all, I do not use the news release to do my work. It's background material. News releases have their place. But they do not kick into gear, in my opinion, until after you've tapped into your contacts and your legitimate pitch.

    Mass emailing releases? This is less a crutch and more an act of desperation by the folks you describe above.

    Scott - I claimed "Universal Favorite" for my blog. It sounds heftier and keeps me out of court.


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