Matter Chatter

Stop putting “leading” in the lede!

I have a challenge for C-suite execs, legal teams, PR agencies, and my fellow PR colleagues: stop describing your company as “leading” in your press materials. You know what I mean. Take a look at any news service and you’ll see a long list of press releases describing their companies as leading: “Company X, the leading company in cubicle decor, announced today…”

This tells us nothing meaningful about a company, and tells reporters even less. The trend to include this subordinate clause began about 25 years ago, when the high-tech industry had a handful of giants: IBM, Digital, Microsoft, Dell, Lotus Development. Yes, those organizations were leading companies, and it meant something to describe them that way.

But then the internet happened, giving rise to hundreds and hundreds of companies, services, and apps – groundbreaking, exciting, paradigm-shifting, yes, for sure. But leading? All of them? We seriously doubt it, and so does every newsroom across the country.

Unfortunately, this empty qualifier that has permeated press releases has no bearing on a company’s true relevancy. By using it, you are obscuring your organization’s authentic definition – its reason for being.

If you have only a few sentences to communicate something about your company, tell us something real and meaningful that helps to frame your story. Tell us you are dedicated to providing calming cubicle experiences or that retention rates are 60 percent higher when employees sit in your cubicles, or that your cubicles are installed in 75% of commercial spaces. With that information, we immediately know and understand your company’s relevance.

Many times we hear from in-house PR or legal counsel that the CEO requires them to include the dreaded leading clause. Well, CEOs, presidents and founders, stop it. Just stop it. When you had that spark of an idea for the brilliant company you have now created, it wasn’t to be a leading organization initially. It was to solve a problem, and you did it so well, you became successful. Go back to that spark, that path you originally set out on, and define your company in those terms. That’s what will resonate with readers and reporters.

Real leaders don’t need to tell us they’re leading, and leading organizations don’t need to, either.

Just show us. We’ll get it. We promise.

So, no more using the word leading in press releases, agreed? Okay, who wants to lead the way?