July 17, 2007

Mean What You Say, Say What You Mean

Boy, that would put politicians out of business. ANYway, a good little article from Ad Age's Eric Webber on the benefits of plain-speaking.

[...] The PR business is filled with some of the smartest, most innovative people I know, but they're too often overshadowed by the creators of language that only serves to reinforce the negative stereotype of the PR person as nothing more than an obfuscator.

I'm not saying that the local PRSA meetings have to become some sort of Algonquin Roundtable, but I do think it's time that we as an industry start holding ourselves to higher standards. We're supposed to be in the business of taking sometimes complicated issues and putting them into language that is easy to understand.

Instead, we're just as likely to take a rather uncomplicated message and put it into language so hard to understand that it ends up meaningless. More than ever, I think there is a need for style, wit and -- most of all -- clarity.

I once worked with a woman who had a habit of using the phrase "Which is to say...." For example: "The value is immeasurable, which is to say, it's hard to measure." That's an actual quote. Call me a simpleton (go ahead, I'm used to it) but if you are clear and direct, you only have to say what you mean once to get your point across. [...]

Of course, you could also take the Possumblog Path, which is to embrace the liberation that comes from realizing the complete and utter pointlessness of what you have to say.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at July 17, 2007 09:50 AM

Perhaps. But in their version, you get paid to say pointless things.

Your business model seems a little unprofitable by comparison.

Posted by: skinnydan at July 17, 2007 10:59 AM

So I've noticed.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 17, 2007 11:02 AM

As long as we're weighing on annoying verbal tics, can we get a meritorium on the use of "awsome" and "amazing"?

Six month at least, until the next fad phrase kicks in.

Posted by: southtrek at July 17, 2007 11:17 AM

Hey, if this has turned into the Tuesday Gripe Fest (grammar/language edition), can I complain about people pronouncing "mischievous" as "miss-CHEE-vee-ous"?

I heard it on a news story the other day, and I wanted to beat the guy over the head with his own dopey microphone.

Posted by: skinnydan at July 17, 2007 12:08 PM

I would complain about such things, but I've heard myself talk. Then again, there is a great deal of abuse of the word "myself" out there, usually spoken by instacelebs who want to appear more educated than they actually are.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 17, 2007 12:26 PM