Sunday, December 13, 2009

Editing PR Speak

Twice a year I help one of the trade magazines I freelance for gear up for the NAMM Show, which means I spend a few hours a day for about a month editing PR Speak out of press releases for the latest guitars, drums and gadgets hitting the market from the biggest instrument manufacturers in the industry.

That means twice a year I’m reminded why most journalists condescendingly call publicists and press release writers J-School Dropouts behind their backs.

Here are a few examples of adjectives that appear in just about every release I’ve edited in the past week that all PR representatives should strike from their vocabularies when describing their company’s products:

  • Noteworthy
  • Incredibly
  • Beautiful
  • Stunning
  • Gorgeous
  • Cutting-edge
  • Top-quality
  • State-of-the-art
  • Ingenious
  • Unprecedented
  • Best

Just the facts, please.

See, too this excerpt on writing press releases that insists they should be written in "news style" and "avoid the first person.

The French poodle rule

The French poodle rule is fairly straightforward.

French is a proper noun and therefore is capitalized.

But poodle is a common noun. There is no province called Poodle. Thus, poodle is lowercase in news style, no matter if the American Kennel Club
insists it is up in their press releases and on their Web site.

Thus, as with so many things in writing and editing to style, we need to extrapolate to other instances of this in considering whether the first letter of a word is up or down. Sometimes, of course, that takes some research to determine if a name is derived from a proper noun.

Feel free to comment on this topic below.

Feel free to comment

No or Any

The New York Times reported the NCAA is looking into Tennessee's use of hostesses to attract top football players. The NCAA has met with four prospects and is expected to talk to two more this week.

This is passage from NYT story:

Marcus Lattimore, a running back who made an unofficial visit to Tennessee but said he would not enroll there, said multiple Tennessee hostesses attended a game at James F. Byrnes High School in Duncan, S.C., in September. He said they brought signs, including one that read, “Come to Tennessee.”

“I haven’t seen no other schools do that,” he said. “It’s crazy.”

This is passage from St. Pete Times story:

Lattimore said he was not interested in committing. But two teammates, defensive ends Brandon Willis and Corey Miller, have done so orally. Lattimore called the hostesses pretty and real cool.

"I haven't seen any other schools do that," Lattimore said. "It's crazy."