“Buzzwords and industry jargon are a form of shorthand used by people within a particular company or profession, but they can be confusing or even seem exclusionary to individuals outside of that field. When these words are overused, they can lose their impact altogether.” –Max Messmer, Author and CEO of Accountemps
No one is as guilty of excessive overuse of “buzzwords” as PR companies, but that doesn’t excuse it. When pitching to journalists from top publications who have bursting inboxes to scroll through, explaining your product in a clear and concise manner is essential.
Words like “revolutionary,” “disruptive,” “unique,” or “ground-breaking” are like red flags to tech reporters. They will be the judge of just how important your creation is, if they decide to write about it. Remember that the aim of a pitch is to catch a journalist’s eye, and get them to cover your story. A pitch is very different from an advertisement, and should not be overly promotional.
While you may have spent the last year or more working long hours and developing your product–perhaps akin to the mad scientist from Frankenstein–and genuinely believe your new product is something that is going to change the world, describing it in grand terms may actually be counter-productive. It is better to describe your product/service clearly, rather than using exaggerated adjectives that will only make the reader skeptical. Here are some examples of sentences that work well, and others that you should avoid:
Story for [publication name]: Travel itinerary-sharing platform Tripverse launches Android version of its app
Story for [publication name]: Amazing new travel app revolutionizes the way that we share the world with our friends.
Exclusive for NAME: Publishflow relaunches, allows digital publishers to integrate media monitoring, smart notifications and analytics.
Exclusive for NAME: Publishflow relaunches, disrupting digital publishing industry with ground-breaking media monitoring and analytics tools.
Why does it matter?
Describing your product as ground-breaking or revolutionary is about as informative as a restaurant menu entry that only states “the most delicious plate of food EVER”.
In the same way that you are unlikely to pay $30 dollars for a dish when you have no idea what the ingredients are, a journalist is unlikely to give you his or her precious time, if there is no concrete indication of what your product/service is or does.
If you can explain in an eloquent yet concise manner what your product or service does, why it fills a niche in the market, and why millions of people will be excited about it, then you have a chance to get published! Place yourself in the bigger context: What are the problems that you are solving? What are the needs you are serving?
Also, bear in mind that the journalist who will read your pitch probably won’t have graduated with a PHD from MIT. Try to not use overly technical jargon or abbreviations, such as HEVC or Dynamic tessellation, as journalists don’t have the time to research what these terms mean. Make it intelligent, but also readable and accessible for the average layperson.
Take a step back and imagine you are explaining your product to someone in a coffee shop, rather than to a peer. At the end of the day, it is the normal news-reader who you are aiming to reach, not a niche group of rocket scientists.