PR Niblets

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Slow Down and Edit!

There’s nothing worse in the PR world than misinformation. The slightest variation of a word, a decimal point, or emphasis can make the difference between a positive message and a negative one. But in this age of rapid-fire email and real-time communications, the simple act of spending some time editing written communications could mean a tremendous difference and increase its effectiveness exponentially.

Here’s a recent example. We were facilitating a series of interviews for a client with an influential trade publication. In providing the reporter background information, we included a White Paper that had been developed for the client to explain its technology and the general benefits of its use. I received an email from the reporter with several questions, one of which had to do with a mathematical figure that was designed to demonstrate the efficiency and power of the technology. But when he quoted me the figure, he felt it didn’t quite jibe with the messaging.

We wound up going back to the original authors of the paper only to discover that the way they expressed the technology’s energy efficiency was inaccurate. A decimal point too many places to the right and utilizing the wrong metric measurement made it seem pretty useless because the way it was written made it seem like it used one third of the energy that it was supposed to have produced. Fortunately, catching the error demonstrated that our client’s technology was much more viable than it would have appeared had the editorial mistake not been caught. But this was a White Paper that was being delivered as promotional material to prove the company’s concept!

And how embarrassing that the analysts who developed the piece didn’t realize the mistake, and it took several years and a member of the media to uncover it?

Of course there are other examples, one of which I’m told is Henry’s favorite. It almost sounds like a joke, but here goes: apparently there was a PR firm that didn’t do a very good job of editing their own press releases, as it seemed they provided one particular client pubic relations counsel.

The moral of these stories? Even in this fast-paced, real-time, supercharged environment in which we find ourselves, taking the extra five minutes, three seconds even, to edit what we say and how we say it, can make all the difference in the world – and make us all seem a lot smarter.

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