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Humor in PR: Can You Hear Me Now?

by Kathy Klotz-Guest  |  
June 21, 2005
  |  10,395 views

Humor works. But, sadly, there's a dearth of humor in public relations efforts, especially from technology companies. There's a reason Dilbert skyrocketed to fame—it's rife with truth!

High-tech suffers from terminal seriousness. It's an insidious problem, and it means that most tech companies fail to take advantage of opportunities to stand out. Over 80% of everything we hear daily is filtered, and humor helps you to be heard in a crowded market.

It's time to think differently about marketing. "Me-too" strategies just won't cut it—unless you aspire to mediocrity. Companies spend millions on technology but can't spend a few creative brain cycles to do justice to their PR? It's like spending a ton on collateral, without having an effective 30-second pitch! Great PR doesn't have to be expensive—just creative.

A lack of great PR can be deadly. Many great products and services go under the radar not for lack of quality but because they have failed to attract attention in a noisy world. The king of the market does not necessarily have the best offering. You must not merely have great quality—your marketing must take a strategically different approach to stand out. Humor can help!

Humor is not a four-letter word. Yes, it's a five-letter word. But the point is, If done right, humor can help with the most important aspect of PR—garnering visibility. Most of the editorial press corps read far fewer than half of all releases sent to them. Why? Because companies don't think about content from a perspective that matters to their audiences.


Most releases end up in the "circular" file unread—because they stink! They are painfully dull, uncreative, self-promotional and without value to readers. They also lack news, and if your press release floats—it's got more "foam" (read: lack of substance) than a Styrofoam cup.

Questions you need to ask about your PR include the following:

  • What's in it for my audience?

  • Do I have a great hook? Do I have an interesting angle of value to readers?

  • Is this release part of a well-balanced, integrated marketing program?

  • Is my announcement newsworthy? As my favorite 1980s fast-food commercial lamented, "Where's the beef?!" A little sizzle is fine, but you must include the steak.

The good news is this: By daring to do something different, you'll stand out. Humor isn't the whole meal, but it makes a great appetizer. And there are risk-mitigation strategies any company, or individual, can employ.


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Kathy Klotz-Guest, founder of Keeping It Human, helps companies turn marketing-speak into compelling human stories. A comic improviser and marketer, she also runs a marketing podcast. Reach her via kathy@keepingithuman.com.

LinkedIn: Kathy Klotz-Guest

Twitter: @kathyklotzguest

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