PR lessons from “Elf”

My family rang in the holiday season by watching “Elf” last weekend, and I can't help myself from spotting PR insights anywhere, even in a Will Ferrell movie.

You know the part where Buddy gets excited about the random coffee shop called “World’s Best Cup of Coffee”? Watch it again real quick.

It’s funny, but why? They say they’re the world’s best – why wouldn’t that be amazing and worth jumping up and down about? Because it’s obviously just a hollow marketing claim, and even my kids get that joke.

So why are we pitching media news releases that tout our organizations as “the leading provider of . . .” or “leading solution” or any other unverified claims?

Or pitches with empty phrases like “unparalleled luxury” or “world renowned”?

Nothing wrong with making those assertions – if they’re true. So try this in media pitching going forward: just include the actual facts, not the claims.

Like, instead of “leading provider of MRI machines . . .,” write, “We sell more MRI machines than any other company.”

Or, instead of “world renowned textiles,” write, “Our website visitors come from 149 countries.”

If you get pushback from clients (external or internal) about excluding hollow marketing claims, just ask them, “Okay, how do we know that?” And include the proof point along with the claim.

That way we avoid having journalists and bloggers laugh at our releases as hard as you and I laugh at Buddy the Elf.

This article was originally published on December 2, 2020

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