Tell the Truth
For the screenwriter, authenticity is non-negotiable. The first test an audience member administers – consciously or sub-consciously – is one of authenticity. “Do I trust the credibility of the storyteller? Do they know the world they’ve created well enough for me to lose myself in it for the next two hours?” If the screenwriter passes, the audience will follow her anywhere. If not, you’re done.
The marketer does not hold himself to this standard, mostly due to a belief that marketing = inflation of stature. That belief states that as a marketer, it’s your job to make your company sound as good as possible, authenticity be damned.
To test this theory, I recently conducted an informal study of technology press releases. I reviewed 100 press releases from three technology industry feeds of Marketwired – Computers & Software; Telecommunications; and Electronics & Semiconductors – distributed on March 13 and 14, 2014.
The two most interesting results:
– 74% of all companies included an unsubstantiated claim in their company descriptor that begins the press release. Terms such as “cutting edge,” “revolutionary,” “next generation,” “world-class,” and “breakthrough.”
– 49% of companies described themselves as “a leader” or “the leader” in their industry.
That is excellent news. Our concerns about trailing the rest of the world in science and math are clearly unfounded as nearly half of all companies lead their industry!
People, please. The primary audience for a press release is the media. Ask any journalist what they think of these declarative descriptions. But be ready to cover your ears.
The companies that didn’t declare themselves captains of industry achieved a far more authentic tone because it was clear they honored the fact-driven purpose of a press release. The tone was refreshing, the content straightforward. And interestingly enough, several of these companies are leaders in their industry.
Respect the audience, be truthful or even humble in what you say, and you just might find yourself seen as a leader in your industry. A simple shift in tone will make you a leader in press release authenticity, that much is clear.