Tuesday, January 24, 2006

PR tip of the day: Tell the truth!

Like mom said, honesty is always the best policy

Scott Baradell of Media Orchard starts off an excellent post with this statement:

If you were to ask 100 people on the street what professional group is the least honest, our guess is that the following would be the top three results (in no particular order):

1. Politicians
2. Lawyers
3. PR People

Baradell goes on to write a comprehensive article on the importance of telling the truth. He also points out that PR folks who are less than honest when talking to journalists do a disservice to the public relations profession. Baradell, a former reporter, supports his premise with several good sources. Veteran and novice PR professionals will find value in his post.

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Kate said...

It gets pounded into a great many folks who deal with the media to "dumb down" their remarks to target an 8th grade education level. I think this smacks of dishonesty in a big way. Just tell things like they are; people who don't understand may be challenged to educate themselves, and those who *do* understand won't feel like the media thinks everyone is an imbecile.

AsianSmiles said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AsianSmiles said...

agree with the top 3 list.

I wonder what's #4. (Spouses?)

LOL, j/k Sis. Have a wonderful day!

ooops... i got too carried away. we're talking abt professions/professionals, lol. sorry. (i had to delete the previous message to add the correction)

Deb S. said...

Kate: Great thoughts! I understand what you're saying. Even so, there is something to say for writing in layman's language. I prefer the term "layman's language" to the phrase "dumb down."

I've had a long career in communications, working as a journalist and an educator. I always aspire to write in the simplest terms, even for academic types.

I don't feel as if I'm "dumbing down" my material. I feel as if I'm making it easier for people to read and understand it. I never want someone to read something I've written and walk away being puzzled. If that happens, I feel as if I haven't done my job well.

I don't use jargon in my writing - ever. Not everyone is on the same page, and not everyone reads at a 12th grade level or higher. Even on my blogs, I make it a point to keep my writing simple, especially when I'm covering complex topics.

About your statment: "Just tell things like they are; people who don't understand may be challenged to educate themselves" -

You never want to lose your audience. If you write over their heads, they'll just tune you out and move on to something else.

I think it's an art to write on a 5th to 8th grade level without sounding condescending. Not everyone does it well. You certainly have a point when it comes to the writers you describe. Without a doubt, we who write should respect our readers.

By the way, I hope you don't feel like an imbecile here! :-)

Kate said...

By the way, I hope you don't feel like an imbecile here! :-)

Am I supposed to? *grinning* I do a very good job of feeling like an imbecile at my *own* direction most times!

I don't mind the phrase "dumb down", although I also value "layman's terms" as well. What I did not express well, is that as a writer it is my job to write things in such a manner that a wide variety of people will be able to understand them. What I write should stand alone, but it should *also* have enough to it to tantalize people who want to find out more.

And, I've only been investigating your blog for a few days; however, I really like what I've seen so far. Your approach is very nice!

Len said...

There you go making sense again DCS. I hate the term dumb-down it sounds so condescending. What good are your words to a mass audience if only a select few people can understand them?

I feel your communication style should be appropriate to your audience. There is a time to use technical jargon and a time to use language that is that is clear and plain. I prefer effective speaking and writing any day oppose to long sentences of technical jargon that leaves me saying (huh)...

Deb S. said...

Kate: You make excellent points about writing. I am sure readers here will appreciate them. You make a great point about wanting to "tantalize people who want to find out more."

About your "imbecile" comment: Hey, you're stealing my line! LOL

Kate, thanks for your kind words about my site. I encourage folks here to check out yours. It's a winner.

Deb S. said...

Len: You're another writer I greatly admire. Your comment about writing for your audience is excellent. Hopefully, people are taking notes.

AsianSmiles: "Spouses." LOL Good one. :-)

Rose said...

As usual DCS you said it like the pro that you are....