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Making Sense of PR Speak – Part II

confusionLast year, Alex wrote about the abundance of jargon that seems to find its way into considerable amounts of PR copy – with B2B PR being particularly afflicted by the jargon curse. With 2016 now firmly established, this is a good time to revisit the topic and have a look at some of the current phrases being ‘leveraged’ in the world of PR.

One of the biggest problems with using jargon and buzzwords is that it can completely ruin the tone of whatever you are writing. Surveys have found that jargon is an immediate irritant to a reader, and is something that people can even find intimidating. So even if the actual ‘thing’ your press release is announcing is interesting if it’s littered with jargon and buzzwords, readers (and that includes journalists) will instantly switch off. Here are a few more words to avoid:

  • Amplify: This is predicted by one language consultancy to be the biggest buzzword of 2016, instead of using much more sensible synonyms, such as increase, improve or grow.
  • Disrupt/Disruptive: In a similar way to the over use of ‘unique’, seemingly these days, everyone wants to be seen as doing something ‘disruptive’. If you genuinely think your technology or service is disruptive, then stand by it, but if it’s merely a product update or a new version of your software – how disruptive is it really?
  • Buy-in: This means agreeing with each other or gaining someone’s interest, but instead ‘buy-in’ sounds vaguely sinister and as if you’ve had to bribe someone to show their interest.
  • Robust (see also, resilient): I hold my hand up, I’ve been guilty of this one. ‘Robust’, often used to describe something like a software program, is one of those words that’s becoming so ubiquitous that’s it’s beginning to lose all meaning.
  • Granular: Used instead of simply saying, in detail. Granular actually means consisting of small grains or particles, i.e. sand. It does not mean doing something thoroughly or comprehensively.

A lot of modern technology is already complex enough; the role of tech PR is to make this complexity simple so that it can be communicated simply to a range of audiences. Ultimately, journalists are writing for readers whose understanding of a particular technology will vary from those who know it in-depth, to those who have never heard of it. So if today’s short-on-time journalists have to read a bylined article, press release or comment multiple times to try and decipher it, they simply won’t use it. So whatever you find yourself writing – from a sentence-long comment to a 900-word byline, ditch the jargon and keep it simple.

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PR across borders: Are we all on the same page?

news-426893_640Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside PR agencies from around the world for my clients. As you’d expect, this always involves plenty of the day-to-day humdrum of co-ordinating a PR account across international borders – the conference calls, meetings, reports and the like. Yet looking beyond the everyday conversations, these processes actually give us a great view of how our trade is practiced around the world.

As PR professionals, we’re all working towards the same goal, yet the approach different agencies take across borders varies. With respect to the economic and cultural differences that exist, the biggest reason for this is the different ways that the media perceives business across different regions.

To start with, the UK likely has one of, if not the toughest media landscapes in the world. British journalists tend to possess an underlying cynicism when it comes to the achievements of businesses – perhaps reflecting the national psyche. This may be seen as a point of pride for many British PRs who can thrive in the face of this challenge, but it’s not without reason. We must be able to demonstrate why our clients’ new software updates, partnerships or perspectives on an issue matters more than that of their rivals, to a journalist who likely has hundreds of other companies vying for his or her attention.

Of course, PRs in the USA, France, Germany or indeed anywhere else must do the same. Yet in these regions, success usually seems to be celebrated, rather than questioned. Yet closer to home, PRs are often seen as ‘spin doctors’ or worse.

It’s important to remember that this is just a general rule with a number of exceptions. Every region will have its share of cynical journalists, and PRs will find that what works for one publication in their region won’t necessarily work with another.

Embracing a challenge

As PRs, we should be celebrating that much of our media is sceptical of every message we communicate. We face a real challenge in convincing the press to air our clients’ views every day, making the results achieved all the more rewarding. A media landscape in which journalists accepted news or analysis without question would be far poorer, not to mention untrustworthy.

In an industry often full of hot air, the only way we as PRs can make our clients heard is to make their message stronger and more relevant than the rest. Just a quick look through the social media profiles of some of our regular media contacts reveals the mistrust PRs are faced with, and judging by the standard of some of the content these journalists receive, that’s hardly a surprise. We as PRs must take the time to understand our counterparts in the press and what their audiences are interested in, and create messages that will matter to them, no matter what region we’re working in. Ultimately, no matter how tough the media might be, the quality of the message will always make all the difference.

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Guest Post: Announcing the Sixth Annual Constellation SuperNova Awards

The SuperNova Awards honor leaders that demonstrate excellence in the application and adoption of new and emerging technologies. 

In its sixth year, the Constellation SuperNova Awards will recognize nine individuals who demonstrate true leadership in digital business through their application of new and emerging technologies. We’re searching for leaders and teams who used disruptive technolgies to transform their organizations. Special recognition will be given to projects that seek to redefine how the enterprise uses technology on a large scale.

We’re searching for the boldest, most transformative technology projects out there. If you or someone you know has what it takes to compete in the SuperNova Awards, fill out the application here: 

APPLY NOW

Timeline

  • February 8, 2016 application process begins. 
  • August 8, 2016 last day for submissions.
  • September 7, 2016 finalists announced and invited to Connected Enterprise.
  • September 12, 2016 voting opens to the public
  • September 21, 2016 polls close
  • October 27, 2016 Winners announced, SuperNova Awards Gala Dinner at Connected Enterprise 

Rewards

Judges

Technology thought leaders, analysts, and journalists selected for their futurist mindset and ability to separate substance from hype. The SuperNova Award Judges carefully evaluate each SuperNova Award application against a rigorous set of criteria. Judges will identify individuals who demonstrate true leadership in the application and adoption of new and emerging technologies.  Want to catch a judge’s eye? Judges look for projects whose elements can be replicated in other enterprises.

Learn more about the SuperNova Award Judges.

Categories

  •  Internet of Things – A network of smart objects enables smart services. (examples: sensors, smart ‘things’, device to purchase)
  •  Data to Decisions – Using data to make informed business decisions. (examples: big data, predictive analytics) 
  •  Digital Marketing Transformation – Personalized, data-driven digital marketing. 
  •  Future of Work: Social Business – The technologies enabling teams to work together efficiently. (examples: enterprise social networks, collaboration)
  •  Future of WorkHuman Capital Management – Enabling your organization to utilize your workforce as an asset. (examples: talent management)
  •  Matrix Commerce – Commerce responds to changing realities from the supply chain to the storefront. (examples: digital retail, supply chain, payments, omni-channel retail)
  •  Next Generation Customer Experience – Customers in the digital age demand seamless service throughout all lifecycle stages and across all channels. (examples: crm, customer experience)
  •  Safety and Privacy – Strategies to secure sensitive data (examples: digital identity, information security, authentication)
  •  Technology Optimization & Innovation – Innovative methods to balance innovation and IT budgets. (examples: innovation in the cloud, ENSW cost savings, cloud ERP, efficient app production)
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Coverage Cup round up – Chinese new year edition

Coverage cupNín hǎo, and welcome to the first Coverage Cup post of the Chinese new year. This year is the year of the monkey, but Spark has refrained from monkey business in the pursuit of a bananas amount of coverage.

JDA and Verizon split the prize for national coverage as both teams secured great pieces in the Financial Times.  JDA’s Razat Gaurav highlighted the latest risks impacting global supply chains while Verizon commented on the state of the cyber insurance industry.  

After the team successfully set up a briefing, HCL’s Prithvi Shergill was featured on HR Magazine, talking about ’employee-led organisations’. While Employee Benefits covered the news that HCL had been certified a Top Employer for the tenth year in a row.

Finally, the ViaSat team swinging into action to secure a feature length article on ZDNet regarding what ViaSat-3 means for the future of satellite broadband. This was arguably the pick of the bunch, with the journalist going ape about the story on Twitter.

A full list of coverage cup nominations can be found below:

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To ping, or not to ping? That is the question

emailI suspect I’m not alone in occasionally wondering what the world of work was like before the advent of email. It’s strange to think that in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that long ago at all that email didn’t exist, so there are likely a lot of people out there who remember first-hand what things were like.

Of course, for those of us in technology PR (or indeed any field of public relations), email has become indispensable as a communications tool. We rely on it to quickly ‘ping’ across information to our journalist counterparts with the minimum of fuss. It’s particularly helpful when it comes to sending out a press release. Gone are the days when our forebears had to stick it in a stamped envelope and hope to God it made it to the right person in time; now it’s just instant.

Oddly enough, I recently met someone who claimed to have been amongst the first PR people to email a press release to a journalist. He said that both parties described it as a revelation. You can see why; but nowadays, email has become so commonplace that it’s become as much a blessing as it is a curse.

While it’s a great means of efficiently sending out information or having a less intrusive chat with someone, email can be very impersonal. This makes it very difficult to engage a journalist in a two-way dialogue, so getting any feedback from them can be pretty tricky. As such, it’s important to treat email as just one tool in the communications arsenal, rather than to rely on it too much. Picking up the phone and having a conversation is just as relevant today as it was in the 70s, and will be in 2020.

I suspect that the same rings true across almost any industry sector, but for those of us working in tech PR, it’s particularly interesting trying to find the right balance.

On the one hand, journalists tell us they receive hundreds of emails every day, so even the most carefully crafted subject line could easily fall by the wayside. From our clients’ perspective, it’s also important that we can provide them with feedback on the response from the journalists that we’ve spoken with on their behalf, which puts email at another disadvantage.

However, at the same time, journalists are often incredibly pressed for time, so many tend to prefer an email over a phone call or suggestion to meet up in person. As a result, there is very clearly a fine line to tread between when it’s best to ping over a quick email or pick-up the phone. So how do you work out when one approach is better than another?

As a rule, I’d say there is no rule to knowing when an email will do, or when a phone call would be better. What’s most important for PR consultants is our knowledge of the media and the people we’re dealing with. This makes it much easier to gauge what their preferences will be, and which approach will work best in any given situation.

It’s the ability to judge each situation and make a call on which approach is most likely to secure the reaction we’re looking for that is so crucial to everything we do in PR. Getting it wrong can be disastrous; damaging the relationships we’ve worked so hard to build and ruining our chances of securing the all-important coverage that our clients need. So let’s not lose sight of the importance of making that judgement call every time we’ve got something to say.

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