Three quick tips for writing a totally pointless press release

We’ve been a bit upbeat on this blog lately. So time to get back to our roots and put some singularly bad business writing under the Good Copy, Bad Copy microscope.

Today, three quick tips for ensuring your next press release bombs, inspired by this pointless piece of prose:

“The new brand is a result of our collaborative work with stakeholders, members and customers. We listened to their feedback about a desire to work with a more modern and global organization, while still maintaining our rich history and an emphasis on sustainability,” said Ash Sahi, President & CEO, CSA Group. “The singular, more streamlined brand identity will help as the organization extends its global service offerings and solutions to our customers and members while building on our specialized technical expertise, reputation, trustworthiness and rich heritage.”

And here are those tips:

1. Announce something of absolutely no interest to any living journalist
A good topic for your totally pointless press release? Your redesigned logo, a subject containing such minimal news mileage that it definitely warrants 370 words’ worth of your corporate affairs manager’s time.

Caveat: if your new logo is likely to be greeted by universal opprobrium, tell your corporate affairs manager to expect to be fielding calls all day.

After all, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, is there? Hmm. Tell that to the hapless designer who’s not worked since committing the heinous crime of adding a little blue square to the word “Gap” for a brief moment in 2010.

Not to mention the creative minds responsible for the wincingly awful attempt to be down with the kidz that is the London 2012 logo (yes, all I see is Lisa Simpson doing THAT, too).

2. Pepper your totally pointless press release with biz babble
Start by including anything that’s appeared on Good Copy Bad Copy’s various lists of words that should be banned, such as:

Stakeholders (No. 41)
Sustainability (No. 4)
Solutions (so awful it warranted a post of its own)
Offerings (No. 3)

We’re particularly pleased to note that since we wrote about it, offering is going the way of learning and is increasingly being pluralised.

Which only adds to our feeling that this is a word most often paired with the adjectives meagre and burnt.

3. Write a quote for your CEO that sounds so obviously made up people will wonder if he’s actually a robot
And remember: the best way to compensate for your total lack of ear for the rhythms of normal, human speech is to write a quote so ridiculously long it would eat up about six column inches of space in your chosen publication. That’ll persuade them to run it.

Read the rest of the totally pointless press release from which the above quote was culled.

8 comments so far . . . come and pitch in!

  1. You’ve missed a fourth rule – on no account use your press release to explain what it is you organisation actually does. I’ve read it and I haven’t a clue.

  2. Will says:

    Nice deconstruction, Clare.

    Quite apart from the writing in the release itself, I’d say that the attitude of ‘instead of reducing the amount of energy we use, we’ll be greener by adding the colour green to our logo!’ is pretty stupid. Equally bad is ‘we have global scope, so we decided to make it a bit globe-shaped.’

    And then there’s the ‘Advancing Today, Anticipating Tomorrow’ tagline which can be interpreted multiple ways (how do you ‘advance’ a day?) and fails the ‘know how to use “anticipate” properly’ test. All in all, it’s hardly inspiring work.

  3. Liat Gat says:

    Oh wow. I love starting work on Monday and chuckling over someone else’s poor writing!

    Your reference to the words that should be banned made me think that it might be useful to your readers (forgive me if you already have this) to have a continuously-updated resource page of words that should be banned.

    I found myself clicking on the words “words that should be banned” even though it was obviously not linked, just in the hopes that it might be. It could be a great page to get your readers to refer back to your site again and again, and hopefully for people to recommend to their coworkers 🙂

  4. I love that the group “strives to achieve excellence”. Good start.

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  6. Paul Eveleigh says:

    Clare, your example proves that some writers are in the wrong job (so too are the dimwit managers who approve such rubbish). Which explains why most press releases end up where they belong: in the wastepaper bin.

  7. Clare Lynch says:

    Shooting Parrots – good point and one I should have highlighted. It did rather leave me scratching my head.

    Will – I agree completely. One wonders how much their design agency were paid to come up with that nonsense.

    Liat – I do have a section on “words that should be banned”, but perhaps I need to make more of it. Thanks for the suggestion – will give it some thought.

    Neil – exactly! It’s like saying, “we’re still a bit crap but, you know, we’re trying really, really hard”.

    Paul – quite. I’m not sure who’s more culpable – the dimwit managers or the writer who’s too scared/apathetic/unaware of the pointlessness of it to push back.

  8. Michael Taylor says:

    You have hit my favourite ‘hate-words’ on the nose! The very worst is ‘solutions’. There are other phrases that I kick myself for using: ‘Moving forward’ – ‘Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes it!’ Aagh.

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