A Nickel a Word

“Newer, faster, better, improved.”

The folks who write press releases don’t choose one word to describe their products, they choose them all.

Each year, when we research the products for our Annual All Products Issue, we slog through stacks of press releases written by PR hacks for a nickel a word.

Some marketing professionals are great. They know who they are because I have told them what a relief it is to read their material.

Others, however, believe quantity is better than quality.

Their masterpieces include:

• Superlative-laden, man-on the-moon product descriptions

• Non-specific performance ratings (we love the phrase “up to” a certain number of impressions per hour. That could include one impression. Or none.)

• Protracted (and entirely fictional, in my opinion) quotes from corporate mucky-mucks who drone on about the company and its market position. Zzzzz.

And what’s the deal with product re-releases?

When manufacturers aren’t drawing enough attention with old products, they add a geegaw or doohickey, put a decimal point after the product number (version 5.137435A) and hold a press conference.

Or how about the PR writer’s favorite: the product “launch.”

I envision the Queen Mum, in white gloves and a floppy hat, christening the machine with a bottle of champagne.

What would I like to see in product announcements?

• Truth.

• Crisp, clean communication.

• Interviews with the behind-the-scenes inventors or developers, not the CEO.

• Down-and-dirty quotes from the folks who beta-tested it, not from the marketing department.

• Realistic assessments of how easily it can be incorporated into your workflow, not an engineer’s fantasy of super-compatibility.

What would I settle for?

• Short.

Put it this way, if I were paid a nickel a word for what I read each month, I could share the wealth, and we’d all be happier.

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