Here at medlatest we read a lot. One category of article we read is the corporate press release, issued on a frequent basis by some medical device companies, occasionally by others and hardly at all by some who presumably don’t appreciate the value of this low cost means of getting your message out there.
Or, alternatively, could the doubting Thomas’s be put off by the rather unconvincing format of the standard press release?
Firstly, of course the press release is not a communication vehicle according to the strict definition of communication as being a two way process. The press release certainly isn’t that and it’s not intended to be. Most often it’s a “pin your ears back and listen to what we’re up to” missive. If you’re a medical professional you certainly do;t have time to wade through a page of corporate fluff… you need to apply your own filter to the “news” being disseminated by the vehicle. Just look at the format for a start:
Company does something… that something is great because… Company gets a third party spokesman to validate the claim and finally an illustrious Company representative comments that it is indeed great, the future’s rosy and we’re all very excited. Actually that’s not the end because every release then goes on to have a legal statement suggesting that even though it’s just made an announcement in breathless excitement there is no suggestion that this is a guarantee of future prosperity for it or its investors.
So why are press releases all so “samey” and wouldn’t a company stand out from the crowd a bit if they went “off piste” occasionally? Well sadly that’s a moot point because these releases are frequently distributed through organisations who ensure the format is standardised to a large extent. It may look a bit lazy, but it’s also a deliberate tactic employed to ensure that the familiarity of the format breeds comfort and a sense of confidence and predictability oozing from every pore of the company. The other key factor of course is that the press release will have been filtered through a corporate approval process which by definition likes and ensures that most communications, while they may be self aggrandising are also safe, samey and uncontroversial.
So, next time you see a press release, try playing PR bingo for yourself. Here’s one for a start… whether or not you’ve every heard of the company in question they will usually feature the word “leader” somewhere at the start of the release.
Don’t get us wrong here by the way. The press release is a great source of information for organisations like ours who’ve challenged ourselves to embark on a mission to improve medical practice by improving communication about “everything medical device”… new stuff, clever stuff, bad stuff, tomorrows stuff, stuff that’s gone wrong, stuff that makes sense economically, stuff that delivers patient benefits you may hitherto never have contemplated. What we try to do is straightforwardly report news about new products, events, techniques, research and the like. Of course we reference press releases, but as the third party in this whole game we try to adopt a slightly more critical stance, reporting only the information we think you (as a medical practitioner) will be interested in, rather than every piece of fluff we come across. And we try to be (not sure I can use the word but here goes) impartial by reporting information straight and even referencing competitive activity which may be relevant to a new product story.
Now, back to the bingo… “company X today announced”……
Next instalment: Sales reps; Value, Tolerate, Avoid?
Source: medlatest staff