Among the latest batch of rubbish press releases, one that is, quite literally, “crap”

While compiling candidates for inclusion in my latest collection of Crap Press Releases, I was delighted to come across one about travellers’ diarrhoea. Crap… Diarrhoea…  geddit?!

If it were not for the literal “crap” connection I wouldn’t have singled this one out for mockery – it’s actually an interesting, informative piece, with well-referenced data. My only grouse with it is the headline:

“What are the British bringing back from their holidays?”

When you have a perfectly good news angle – the statistic that up to 40% of UK holidaymakers get the squits while away – it seems a shame to have such a strangely meaningless headline. I suppose the idea is that positing a question as the headline makes the readers so curious they open the email to find the answer. But that seems a risky move – readers could easily assume this is about duty-free purchases, and if they have no interest in luxury goods retailing, they might not bother opening it.

Anyway, on to my second headline nomination. This one isn’t literally about crap; it just annoyed the crap out of me.

“Don’t accept lifts from strangers – or Timothy and Judith”

First reaction: WTF is this about? And that’s not a “I’m so intrigued about this that I will straight away open the email and enjoy finding out” sort of WTF, it’s an irritable “why can’t these people get to the point and say what the story is?” sort of WTF.

Well, it turns out – but not until the second para – that Timothy and Judith are the names most likely to claim on their car insurance. The release lists the other most likely names too. A good, fun, story, but the advice about not accepting lifts from strangers, which is repeated in the intro, had me baffled. The story didn’t appear to have anything to do with getting in cars with strangers. It wasn’t till I came to start writing this piece that I twigged. Yes, of course, it’s saying you shouldn’t get into a car with anyone called Timothy or Judith because the data would appear to suggest that they are more likely than average to have an accident. Hence they might have an accident while you are a passenger in the car. Haha, I see, it was a jocular remark.

At least, I assume it was jocular – I don’t imagine the insurance company behind the release is seriously suggesting that the statistical risks of sharing a car with Timothys and Judiths are so high as to make it genuinely inadvisable. Or are they? I don’t know, and that’s the problem. The trouble with light-hearted approaches in writing is that not all the readers will understand the writer’s sense of humour and will consequently not know whether to take statements seriously or not. It asks the reader to think far too much in order to understand what’s being conveyed.

I would have gone with a more straightforward approach like “Timothy and Judith are the names most likely to claim on their car insurance”.

Anyway, for anyone interested, the next most accident prone names are apparently Antonio, Julian and Bernard for boys and Joanna and Clare for girls.

Here’s one I don’t get at all.

“Sparkling diamond is crowned the city’s new jewel”

Don’t bother trying to work out what it’s about, cos you won’t. The news here is that a bar called Jewel, the third of the chain in London, has opened near St Paul’s. Why couldn’t they just say so?

I simply don’t see what a sparkling diamond has to do with it. I could understand it if the bar’s name was Sparkling Diamond, but it isn’t. And in any event, bars don’t get crowned. Neither do diamonds. In what way has anyone been crowned? It just doesn’t make sense.

Meanwhile, the text is littered with hyperbole and jewel-related synonyms. We have dazzled [twice], opulent, fabulous, fantastic, decadent, delectable, twinkling.

Ooh, it’s just like Santa’s fairy grotto. Or like a thesaurus that burst, scattering synonyms everywhere.

The bar, in a fabulously decadent mixed metaphor, “well and truly stamped its starry mark on the metropolis”. I have no idea how you stamp a starry mark but apparently it can be done.

Maybe this kind of thing is what entertainment/hospitality media like. But there’s really no excuse for typos – too many apostrophes in VIP’s and mannequin’s, not enough apostrophes in venues, Savile Row spelled wrong, no cap A in Fifth Avenue. Yuk.

Well, readers, it’s nearly Halloween and here’s a press release with a ghoulish spelling mistake right up there in the headline. A major candle manufacturer announces its

“frightenly fabulous candles”.

It’s “frighteningly”, you morons. Oh, and candles “cast” a ghoulish glow; they don’t “caste” it, as your top tips for creating a romantic ambience would suggest.

There will be a ton more crap Halloween press releases arriving soon. I feel it; I sense it. I am on full alert.

Pic credit: S Fenton






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