‘Classically bad’ press release leaves Citi vulnerable

The banking giant announced 11,000 layoffs, doing so in a remarkably convoluted press release that the media can have their way with. Communicators weigh in.

No kidding.

If that’s a criterion of success, someone ought to give Citigroup an award.

In a remarkably convoluted press release on Wednesday, the banking giant announced it would lay off 11,000 employees. Several communication professionals say the press release is so bad it insults employees and gives the media carte blanche to interpret the news as it wishes.

“This is textbook of the old way of writing a press release,” said Jim Ylisela, a veteran journalist and communications consultant. “It is so perfectly bad, from start to finish.”

Here’s a look at what went wrong—and what you can do to avoid such mistakes.

‘Classically bad’

The press release, headlined “Citigroup Announces Repositioning Actions to Further Reduce Expenses and Improve Efficiency,” begins with this paragraph:

Mention of the layoffs doesn’t occur until the bottom of the third paragraph.

Ylisela calls the release “classically bad.”

“It has a really, really bad headline and contains the worst possible verb one could choose—repositioning. That’s the kind of verb you use when you don’t want people to know what you’re doing.”

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