As we continue to call out some of the things PR people do that crush the credibility of the PR profession, I want to point out that most of these flubs can result from succumbing to the monotony of some of the tasks associated with our job.
Yes, some of these fails are due to lack of knowledge and experience, but there are so many tasks that we execute regularly. If you’re not careful, you can get stuck in a “template” state of mind. I mentioned this in the first post on headlines in news releases, and this state of mind can similarly be adopted for media statements, as well.
When referring to media statements in this post, I’m mostly referring to the prepared statement distributed along with a news announcement or in response to breaking news about your company. And, my intention for barring the specific words addressed here is to encourage PR people to use their creative and strategic abilities to communicate much more meaningfully.
First words to veto from your vocabulary: thrilled, happy, excited
It irks me so much to see these words used so often in media statements. Of course, you are thrilled, happy and excited – everyone is when announcing good news about their company. The thrill is assumed, so you can replace that sentence with a more meaningful one – such as one that better explains the announcement, provides an interesting fact or showcases the impact of the news.
Two more words to kick to the corner: I, we
Wait a minute, you say. That doesn’t make any sense. This is a statement from the company; naturally, we would use “I” or “we” in our statement, right? Not necessarily. A more engaging statement will focus on the audience and the impact of the announcement on them, rather than the company’s actions or feelings.
Here’s an example to help clarify this point:
Situation: A company is launching a new program that allows employees to take a whole week off in order to do charitable work (go on a mission trip, serve at a Habitat for Humanity build, etc.).
“I/We” statement: “At XYZ Company, it’s important to us to allow employees to give their time to causes they love, as we believe that giving back to the community works in the favor of all who live and work here.”
Impact-focused statement: “This program not only allows our employees to give of their time to causes they love, it also encourages those who may not usually give back to do so on the company’s time!”
The key to crafting a meaningful statement is to think about what it can add to the announcement. Rather than using that valuable real estate to state the obvious or give a monotonous response, use your media statement to provide an interesting perspective on the announcement, share a noteworthy piece of information or more deeply explain the impact of the news on the public.