De-link self-esteem from press releases

By Lauren Edwards

You are a good writer, ordinarily. But no matter what, your press releases keep getting all but shredded.

Or if not shredded, at least changed for no good reason.

If I had a magic sword, I would sever the connection between your self-esteem and corporate press releases.

Pleeeeease don’t judge your skill or value on what happens during the press-release approval process.

And don’t let others do so. At annual review time, let other kinds of writing (blog posts, reports, emails, bylines and so on) be proof points about your performance, not press releases.

I can’t tell you how many hundreds — thousands? — of times I’ve seen perfectly good writing made perfectly bad during editing. It’s the norm. Don’t take it personally.

Less often, I’ve also seen bosses model what they are looking for, which comes out looking like a gut job even if the result is actually pretty good. Again, don’t take it personally. Smile, make the changes, note your boss’ unconscious biases about voice — and emulate them.

Then detach.

Easier said than done, I know. You probably feel that your reputation and even your promotion rest on your ability to get a press release through unscathed. But it’s not true. Step back and see the big picture.

Typically, a corporate press release is a jigsaw puzzle assembled by too many departments, each with too much say over how the release is put together.  Check out this list below. It illustrates why it’s impossible to please all and why the effort to do so ends in pleasing none.

Competing interests

Journalists care about …

… news value, surprise, usefulness in lives of readers, a sense of discovery, data, interpretation

PR pros care about …

… clean approval process, meaningful coverage, bigger budgets, new clients

Marketers

Clear messaging, verbatim pickup, marketshare, impressions

Salespeople

Visual aids, product details, value proposition, benefits, features, differentiators

Executives

Equity, stock price, IPO or buyout prospects, thought leadership, industry influence

Employees

Pride in company, sense of belonging, clear direction, perspective and context

Customers

Pain points, usefulness in their own lives, differentiators, peer opinion, reviews, cost

Analysts

Business model, size of prospective market, pain points, differentiators, customer info, trends

Stockholders

Growth potential, factors that could accelerate or “de-celerate” growth, industry overview, repercussions from related industries, executive performance, competitive landscape

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Lauren Edwards is a former reporter for the Associated Press. She has been creating, customizing and delivering workshops for science and technology teams since 2000.

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