I did a trawl recently for senior executive quotes from press releases that do nothing more than fill space. I was sent quite a few. Here’s my favourite to date:
“There is a significant need in the market for greater advanced threat protection, and many vendors do not have the holistic coverage or full-functionality needed to adequately detect and respond to targeted attacks,” said [redacted], [job title, company]. “[Company] is well positioned to deliver an end-to-end advanced threat solution by building on the technologies it offers today, integrating across its portfolio, and delivering it as a service enhanced by an evolving partner ecosystem. By leveraging its global intelligence and building-in completely new incident response capabilities, [company] can really address a multitude of enterprise cybersecurity requirements.”
If you listen quietly for a second you will hear the distant creaking of inboxes on newsdesks buckling under the weight of gobbledegook-riddled quotes that manage to be unnatural, boring and meaningless in equal measure.
The quote is your golden opportunity to be mentioned in a story.
It is also your best opportunity to get your personality, view of the world, cleverness, etc, across to the correspondent and the audience.
Why, then, are they mostly soup?
I’d guess that around 99% of quotes from CEOs announcing the appointment of a new executive start with:
“I am delighted to announce [name’s] appointment.”
I’d also guess that 99% of the time these quotes are ignored.
What puzzles me is that a CEO hasn’t used this opportunity to say:
“I feel a bit nervous about the appointment of [name] because I think she might be better than me.”
(There’s a recruitment rule, isn’t there? ‘”A’s recruit ‘A’s. ‘B’s recruit ‘C’s.”)
A tenner says that this quote would get in if the story was used. It would also say far more about the character of the CEO. Humility, confidence, a sense of humour, ease, etc.
The jargon soup isn’t confined to appointment announcements, though. It’s everywhere. I’ve taken out all identifiable detail to protect the guilty, but here are a few examples:
“Customization is inherent to the broader [brand] user experience,” says [name], [is that really his job title?] at [brand]; “and this will be the focus for [brand] during [trade show] next month.”
Why would a journalist even consider using this? Hasn’t he got anything interesting to say about the product that could bring the story to life? Surely there’s something.
Here’s an example of the ‘back scratcher’: organisations announcing a collaboration.
[name, job title, company], said: “Our goal is to be a catalyst for change in the UK [sector] market by empowering our customers. Ensuring that we continue to provide the best possible service to those customers is a key part of achieving that aim. Working with technology innovators such as [brand] helps us to ensure that the services we deliver to our customers remain the best in the market.”
…and in response:
[name, job title, company], said: “We are committed to helping customers optimise their household [sector] budgets by using the lowest cost [product] as efficiently as possible, and ensuring that every [product] interaction is simple, understandable and rewarding. Our work with [the other company] has expanded our portfolio of [our services] and we are delighted to be working with a company that has such high standards of customer care.”
This is a real stinker because you could put the name of any product or service in and either quote would ‘work’. Bacon? Fishing lures? Stair lifts? Pet onesies? It’d, er, ‘work’ for any of them.
My all-time favourite is the quote that reads (in part):
“I am delighted to join the global leader and innovator in the adhesive labeling sector at this pivotal moment.”
What he/she meant to say is:
“I’ve liked stickers since I was a kid and I am delighted to join this sticker business.”
More on this soon. We’ve bought a domain called bloatedquotes.com and we’ll set it up, as a companion service to prbuzzsaw.com and our ‘How Not Guide’ to PR.
Oh, and please send me any terrible quotes that you come across. We’ll protect the guilty by removing any identifiable references.
UPDATE: We’ve had a decent postbag already. Here are a couple:
“In the rapidly evolving [redacted] business environment, it’s imperative that we embrace and lead change in order to drive growth across our businesses. We have industry-leading profitable brands with potential for upside and results that will outpace our competitors. These changes reflect a larger plan to evolve [redacted] for next-generation success and profitability. We have an opportunity now to reinvigorate our core [redacted] and brands at a pivotal time. We can look with fresh eyes at positioning and [ditto] choices; at how we are engaging with audiences; and at how we want to develop and grow these important assets. This effort will bring new voices to the conversation and reveal things we can and should do differently. It’s an exciting prospect for us all to build the future success of our great brands.”
“Open Source software offers so much cost-effective alternatives when it comes to integration of two or more systems. Due to the open code structure there are almost no limits and our numerous OTRS Feature Add-Ons are proof of offering easy integration to external databases as well as to SAP, Salesforce or inventory software like Baramundi.”