We take them for granted. We use them every day in thought, speech and on paper. They’re how we communicate with our friends, family and beyond. Sometimes the right one just doesn’t spring to mind but mostly they flow in and out freely.
For those of us working in PR, words are our bread and butter – we stand tall or fall short by our use of them.
This was brought sharply into focus this week when I picked up the Daily Telegraph to see it had a wraparound on the outside. “Another load of advertising puff to be binned” was the immediate thought but then I was diverted by its title: “Words are powerful. So choose them well.”
A simple premise – get your main columnists to write about what words mean to them. How and why they write and the compulsion that drives them to find just the right words to convey the message they want to get over – even if it is “goofy” (Celia Walden).
The question is how to convey this need for brevity and exactitude to one’s clients!
It is well known in public relations that the client believes that the more words in a press release the better it is to get its message over and the more the journalist will learn about the product or company. No matter how many times you explain that a journalist will read the headline and first paragraph, if you’re lucky, and only go further if you really have caught their imagination, you still get eight paragraph releases with the message in the third.
It is up to the PR to guide the client toward making the right choice of words and ideally in the right place. Achieve this and the journalists will get what they need to make their choice of words for an article on the subject. Get it wrong and the release will go the way of the wraparound – into the bin.
Maybe the answer is to share the link with the clients and hope they get the hint!