Lessons behind the wheel

Proving the adage that the best way to learn is to do, attendees at the event we held today got behind the wheel to improve their knowledge of technical PR skills.

The Under the Bonnet event took place at thanks to  and the wet-grip training was delivered by experts from Bosch. 

A few minutes practical experience of how a car behaves – with a clear explanation of why – is worth hours of reading books or listening to someone talk you through the technical aspects of a vehicle.

The second part of the event involved an opportunity to quiz two journalist “victims” about how they work with technical materials provided by PR practitioners and how these can be improved.  Thanks to Ian Donaldson and Steve Slater for their insight.

Again, hearing directly from those at the sharp end of hundreds of press releases is a great lesson.  The most obvious points that came across were:

  • the importance of targeting a release to particular media – not sending out overly technical information to more generalist journalists
  • writing for the reader of the publication in a way that helps the journalist – and not conceiving a release purely to satisfy a client
  • the value of adding the human angle, ideally with opportunities for journalists to meet and talk with engineers, designers and other experts
  • keeping to the facts and highlighting the particular developments and benefits that are most interesting, not throwing in 101+ technical points
  • cutting the pointless adjectives and other puff

On this last point, I muted the idea of developing a list of words that should be banned from press releases.

Ian and Steve identified “iconic” and “iteration” (meaning version) as current contenders.  We agreed that “unique” and “solutions” should also be deleted.

What words do you think should be on the PR barred list?

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

4 thoughts on “Lessons behind the wheel”

  1. The word “integrated” is definitely over-used and should be banned, especially as the meaning differs depending on who you’re talking to. But I haven’t yet found a valid alternative, so any suggestions are more than welcome!

  2. Ilonka – agreed. And, “integrated solutions” would be a red card offence, I think.

    I tend to find the way to deal with such words is firstly to delete and see whether that makes any difference at all (great for puff and pointless adjectives).

    Rather than just finding an alternative to “integrated”, maybe think about what you are really trying to say and what it means in that context. If people cannot agree over the meaning (and integrated does have several meanings), that is an indication that there is a lack of clarity in the communications. From the discussion, you should get an identification of a better way of expressing the point. Hence an alternative word or phrase would be more apparent.

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