It’s still something that winds people up – and some of you have listed it as being among the most annoying aspects of living in Britain today. ‘It’ is bad grammar, and earlier this year respondents to a poll of 700 people cited it among the top 12 moans about life in the UK.
Granted, public transport, UKIP party leader Nigel Farage and snow ranked even higher in the survey, which was published by Metro newspaper. But it is good to see that sloppy English is still something that irks the public. Why should it matter?
The standards of many things have risen dramatically in recently years; so would it not put you off if a company (or organisation) can’t be bothered to communicate properly?
Think about it – if their website is poorly written and full of spelling mistakes, what does that say about the actual goods and services they supply?
If press releases they send to the media miss the main ‘newsworthy’ point and have other important information buried down the page, why should journalists be bothered to cover their stories?
And if a company’s social media feeds are full of unintelligible ‘youth-speak’, I would give them a miss and take my business elsewhere. Somewhere that talks to me in plain, simple English.
Content is certainly king these days, but part of that content should always be well-written words, in
a clear, simple style. Contact me for advice on helping make your business writing crystal clear.
What was the most irritating thing about life according to respondents to the poll? Self-service checkouts in supermarkets.
We all desire and expect coverage for our news releases, given the hard work that can go into researching and writing one – not to mention the boost it should give to your marketing efforts.
But what kind of news release content is likely to put reporters off, or reduce their level of interest in using your story?
Here are a few tips, based my experience in Public Relations:
Using jargon. If you’re writing for a technical, specialist media audience, producing a news release that is tailored for the job, it’s fine to expect a level of knowledge of the subject matter and craft your words accordingly. But our job is to make the journalist’s life easier, remember – copy that is difficult to follow and littered with buzz words from your industry or organisation won’t get used.
Providing no immediate ‘hook’ for the story, or having the main point of the news release buried five paragraphs down (or further) from the top. Journalists and editors are usually presented with a wide choice of new stories on any given day and make a quick decision about whether they will look at your story in any more depth. Get to the point quickly. They have plenty of other choices…
Not really enough news content. Please see my previous blog. There’s little point in issuing the news release in the first place if what you are doing is not that unusual or timely. Would you be interested in talking about the subject to a friend or your partner?
Making the release too long. Stick to the equivalent of two sides of A4 paper, including contact details for follow-up information (do make sure you include these, too). Journalists usually dread having to wade through lots of information; they tend to have short attention spans.
If you would like more advice on researching and writing good news releases that gain coverage, or on media relations in general, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org