Posted in Current events, Technology

Do PR people need to take a basic English writing course or are they just dishonest?

I have had it up to here with misleading press releases. I received a press release that read: “XYZ Wireless, one of the nation’s largest wireless broadband operators, has just launched service in  . . . ”

What do you conclude when you read the line “one of the nation’s largest wireless broadband operators”?

When I read that, I conclude that they have a large customer base. But since I have never heard of XYZ Wireless, I decided to ask them what they mean by “one of the largest”. It turns out they mean they cover an area of several thousand square miles, one of the largest areas of coverage for the kind of wireless service they offer.

Think about that for a minute. You could cover large swathes of the permafrost region and call yourself one of the largest wireless broadband operators in the world. But the people who write these breathless press releases know that if you say “one of the largest wireless operators in the world”, people will think you have one of the largest customer bases, which may not be true.

If they want to be accurate, they should write: “XYZ Wireless, a wireless broadband operator with one of the largest coverage areas in the nation . . .”

Unfortunately, the vast majority of press releases are written this way. Some are outright lies. They hope that the lazy press will simply copy their press releases. I don’t think I have to tell an adult who (I assume) is a native English speaker how to write a basic sentence in the English language.

So what is the problem with people who write these press releases? Do they need a remedial English writing course? Or are they (and their clients) just a bunch of liars?

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Author:

Author of "The Secret of Angat", a novel set in the Philippines during World War II. Founder, MuniWireless.com; Founder (Mapplr.com - travel) and Shopplr.com (beauty, style).

2 thoughts on “Do PR people need to take a basic English writing course or are they just dishonest?

  1. Yes, the “spin”. “One of the largest” could also mean they’re number one-million on the largest list. I happen to be “one of the best” network engineers 😉 I played baseball once, so I’m also one of the best at that.

    Remedial English? I go berserk when I catch grammar and spelling errors on published documents. I catch them all the time. This is amazing considering English, Communications, and Journalism majors are recruited for Marketing and PR positions.

    They won’t change anything. But I’m glad there are people like us who know when we see something other than the complete truth.

    Like

  2. When did it become acceptable practice to use the phrase “the leading . . .” in press releases? When did it become standard practice to lie in press releases?

    Like

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