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The Delicate Balance of Simplicity and Social
By: Mike Bush
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As a flack, you’ve inevitably had a client send you their first draft of a press release, and the opening read something like this:

Company XX, a global, leading maker of widgets that connect industry-centric solutions providers across multiple markets the significant leaders in other vertical markets by building and offering award-winning widgets that have revolutionized the marketplace, today announced that they have acquired Company YY, the leader in producing internationally recognized widget enhancements that greatly impact the shelf life and effectiveness of widgets.

In short, the intro is jargon heavy, but really doesn’t say much of anything.

Recent research from the IBM Institute indicates that customers — you know, the people we ultimately want to hear about the news we’re pushing out in a release — would prefer that companies keep it simple. The study shows that while many marketers (and for purposes of this discussion, we PR folks are also marketers, since we create much of the content that becomes the conversation online) hope that their customers want to “become part of a community” with social media, the reality is that a majority of customers are simply coming for the discounts. Forbes contributor Patrick Spenner has some tips for marketers, and a case study on how marketers can be more effective on social media in this piece.

But, specific to PR, something else has been lost as we try to find the next big “social thing.” Sometimes, as we add elements to our announcements, we may be inadvertently turning off our readers by making pages load more slowly. Joshua Bixley, over at GigaOm, recently reported that the average web page is now over 1MB in size. As “Press Pages” on our clients’ sites get bigger, perhaps because we’re now adding video, a few photos, a downloadable company logo, and an audio clip, we may be making it so that folks are less inclined to stay on that page.

Amazon once said that for every extra 100 milliseconds it takes a page to load, they expect to lose 1% in revenue. Think about your client’s media pages. Now try to think about loading them on your smartphone. Is it taking too long to load?

Today, we as PR folks might just be building web pages that are:

1. Text Heavy (despite not saying anything)
2. Creating long load times (especially for mobile users)

Maybe it’s time we listen to the customers and begin to simplify things.

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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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