KISS principle applies to media releases

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Why is it that organisations like to include information about themselves in an explicit way in media statements and announcements that would be more effective if it were implicit?

Why is it that organisations like to include information about themselves in an explicit way in media statements and announcements that would be more effective if it were implicit?

They think they are making the release sound exciting but usually they are just adding confusing detail and red herrings.

In my view, keeping it simple and to the point is essential.

As a general rule, it is best to be explicit about the facts relevant to the announcement, and avoid adding claims about intangible characteristics, or wishful thinking about how the organisation wants to be seen. Adjectives and superlatives that cannot be supported should also be avoided. The aim is to show, not tell.

If claims about intangible characteristics must be made then they have to be part of a quote, not presented as a fact – it is opinion.

However, quotes like these can be seen as chest-beating and unrealistic. They can also come back to haunt and embarrass an enterprise when predictions about future progress are not achieved, or self-promoted deadlines are not met.

More can be achieved by implication. It is always better to lay a groundwork that encourages others to talk about you so that there is third party endorsement, rather than praising ones-self which is simply boastful.

Self–praise is probably also inconsistent with other positioning an organisation may want to achieve. For example, if an enterprise is striving to be seen as trustworthy, it doesn’t help their image to be seen as boasting or making exaggerated or unsubstantiated claims. Do you trust braggards?

Even in simple things, it is best to let the story tell itself. For example, with a new appointment – the most basic of media releases – organisations often want to over-gild the lily which just puts the media offside. As a result, they may miss out on a useful opportunity (research shows that appointments are the most widely-read sections of publications).

To me, a new appointment release that starts by saying something like:

“Mr Joe Bloggs, CEO of Bloggs Enterprises, said today that he was delighted to announce the appointment of Ms Ann Other to the important position of head of client services”

emphasises the wrong things.

Mr Bloggs is hardly likely to say he’s really upset that Ms Other has been appointed, is he? (Mind you, it would be more newsworthy if he did!) And why do people have to “announce” things when it’s clear it’s an announcement – in fact it becomes an announcement announcing an announcement!

It also places the emphasis on Mr Bloggs rather than on the real person of interest to the media in the story, Ms Other.

Care should also be taken with the use of the word “important” in releases as it can make people sound pompous – and while something may be important to them, it may not be important to anyone else. Let people decide for themselves whether it is important or not.

There’s much more impact in a new appointment release that simply says:

“To help manage anticipated growth, Ms Ann Other has been appointed to the newly- created role of head of client services for Bloggs Enterprises”.

In just a short sentence, the key information has been communicated – the business is growing, it is managing that growth, the team is expanding, and the new person and their job title has been named.

Information about the new role will show its importance and Ms Other’s experience and qualifications can tell the story of competence (adding to the importance of the role and that the business is able to attract staff of this calibre).

In this example, the reason given for the appointment shows the company in a positive way and doesn’t need a lot more elaboration. Any quotes can be used to talk about the company strategy and how the appointment fits in with this (without over-playing it).

And it’s achieved by implication, with much more impact because there isn’t any self-aggrandisement.