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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Clear Communications, PR and abbreviations

picture of coloured dice with letters on them - Abbreviations need to be spelled out for clear communications
Abbreviations need to be spelled out for clear communications
I've just had a press release in from an organisation with a name composed of three initials. The subject matter is something to do with employment, but I haven't a clue whether they are a union, a recruitment consultancy or something else. A quick glance at the website didn't help.

Any journalist worth their salt knows how dangerous it is to make assumptions about abbreviations. There are a huge number of owners for every short arrangement of initials, as any good acronyms guide will clearly demonstrate. That's why journalists are always taught to clarify abbreviations they use by spelling them out in brackets after the first use, regardless of how familiar the abbreviations appear to be.

The named press contact on the release is an in-house PR (public relations) person. There's no mention of a PR agency, and maybe that's the trouble. An outside eye might have been less blind to the obvious. It's all too easy to get sucked into adopting the jargon and initials used within an organisation.

But regardless of what type of PR person wrote the release, they've obviously forgotten or never had any basic journalism training.

Why should they? Well, if you don't understand the needs of the market you are trying to communicate with, how can you be taken seriously? Especially if you commit elementary mistakes.

And not making it obvious who you are on your releases, and compounding that confusion on the website homepage is missing two major communications tricks.

It may sound harsh, but if you can't be bothered to make it clear who you are, do you really think anyone else is going to bother?

Image: jscreationzs /

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK

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posted by Penny Haywood Calder at


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