Before I was a designer, my major in college was public relations. One of the things that I look at when I read a press release is the “About” section at the end of each press release. It’s considered best practice in PR to have a standard footer to close each release that summarizes your company. And I always feel like you can tell a lot about a company by their standard boilerplate language. Because it is used over and over again, senior executives usually approve (or direct) the content.
John Gruber linked to an Apple press release about Bertand Serlet’s departure from Apple. When I glanced at the bottom of the release, I noticed the “About” section had changed to include the iPad 2:
Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.
That’s a well written summary of what Apple does. 62 words and touches on pretty much all of their product lines. (The “hobby” Apple TV isn’t specifically mentioned.) And they are obviously very proud (some might say too proud) of their accomplishments. But after reading it, I wondered… how do other tech companies close out their releases?
So I checked Google’s latest release, which ends with:
Google’s innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major global markets. Google’s targeted advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit www.google.com.
78 words and pretty direct. But what I find interesting is that it mentioned search and advertising, but makes no mention of Android at all. Or Gmail. Or Google TV. Or YouTube. Considering how high profile these products are, I’m surprised that none of them are mentioned at all.
So let’s check out a Microsoft release:
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
The size and scope of Microsoft’s products makes this a challenge. But it is fascinating that they don’t mention Windows at all. Or Xbox. Instead, they go with a tight, albeit generic, 24-word statement. Other than the founding date, that statement could be about almost any technology company.
I figured IBM would have the same issue as Microsoft. Too many products and services to address in a short paragraph. So I checked out their release… and it ended with a link to more info on the website. No attempt to even summarize it. And to be honest, for a company as diverse as IBM, this might be the best approach.
Finally, I checked a recent Amazon release:
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth’s Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of unique new, refurbished and used items in categories such as Books; Movies, Music & Games; Digital Downloads; Electronics & Computers; Home & Garden; Toys, Kids & Baby; Grocery; Apparel, Shoes & Jewelry; Health & Beauty; Sports & Outdoors; and Tools, Auto & Industrial. Amazon Web Services provides Amazon’s developer customers with access to in-the-cloud infrastructure services based on Amazon’s own back-end technology platform, which developers can use to enable virtually any type of business. Kindle, Kindle 3G and Kindle DX are the revolutionary portable readers that wirelessly download books, magazines, newspapers, blogs and personal documents to a crisp, high-resolution electronic ink display that looks and reads like real paper. Kindle 3G and Kindle DX utilize the same 3G wireless technology as advanced cell phones, so users never need to hunt for a Wi-Fi hotspot. Kindle is the #1 bestselling product across the millions of items sold on Amazon.
213 words! They cover everything. They start with a strong statement that they want to be the “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” But then, they move into detailing every single category on their web site. It almost feels more like a search engine optimization technique than a press release.
So in short, what have we learned about each company? First of all, it’s a difficult task to quickly summarize a large corporation - especially a diversified technology company. But, in my opinion:
- Apple is very focused and very proud.
- Google is focused on search and advertising.
- Microsoft can’t clearly articulate what they do.
- IBM’s business is too complex to even attempt to summarize.
- Amazon wants to be all things to all people.