Working predominantly within the sphere of B2B, the sheer innovation and sophistication never ceases to amaze me. From picolitres of ink (that’s one millionth of a microlitre in case you were wondering) fired by inkjet printheads, to the latest hidden security technologies protecting us from counterfeit goods, the world of B2B PR is rarely dull.
The opportunities for creating engaging content therefore abound. Nevertheless, whatever is being created – be it a press release, blog, or feature article – the main priority is always to present the client’s news clearly and succinctly.
Keep it simple…
The guiding principle is to ‘keep things simple’ and yet this is often easier said than done. By their very nature some of the topics are technical and involved, requiring both understanding and knowledge on the subject.
Considering again our example of inkjet printing, creating content is unlikely to involve explaining the aerodynamics of the drop of ink between the printhead and substrate, more like the efficiency and detail this delivers to make it the print technology of choice.
Similarly, in explaining the latest brand protection techniques, the chemistry is rarely the focus, rather it is highlighting how pharmaceuticals prescribed around the world can be authenticated by practitioners as genuine. The art here is to take the technical and distil it down for the reader, focusing on the benefits, to help them see why this news can make their working life better.
But not too simple
Yet care is needed within this process. While simplicity often sells, by aiming to keep to this principle, we can also run the risk of oversimplification.
Take the topic of packaging as an example. Ask the average person in the street what they think about it, and if they haven’t run a mile, it’s currently likely to be a pretty negative view.
Television programmes such as Blue Planet and subsequent national media campaigns have ensured that many now only see a downside to packaging. The many positives, such as ensuring the shelves in our shops contain the goods we all want to buy, or keeping products fresh and thereby reducing the huge environmental impact of food waste, are benefits that are unfortunately rarely ever mentioned, let alone considered in any debate.
The simple message provided to us is that packaging is ‘bad’. Indeed, on reading certain newspapers you may be forgiven for thinking that packaging is the root cause of all the world’s environmental problems!
It’s more complex than that
In this case the messaging has oversimplified what is in reality a multifaceted issue and, as a consequence, this is not actually helping us deal effectively with the problem. Indeed, it can be worse than that, with actions being taken from which unintended consequences abound, as brands and retailers are keen to be seen to be ‘doing the right thing’.
Keeping in the realms of packaging, taking wrappers off cucumbers is viewed by many as good, saving waste on a product that already has its own natural wrapping. Yet an unpackaged cucumber will be past its best after three days; wrapped in plastic film, it will continue to stay fresh for 14. Multilayer barrier technologies in packaging prevent oxygen and moisture from reaching many different products.
Packaging technologies such as these clearly help to reduce the environmental impact of food waste. However, helping the public understand these advantages and their impact in delivering greater sustainability across the whole supply chain requires a much more nuanced explanation.
So, let’s make sure we keep the messaging clear and to the point, but not at the expense of oversimplifying what often can be a complex issue.