The absurdity of acronyms

Just when you think life at the PR coalface can't get any darker or grimier (and we all have those occasional moments), along comes something that makes you realise there are those labouring even deeper down the mine.

Ian Monk: 'It was encouraging to realise that there were those in our business whose lot involved heavier lifting than mine.'
Ian Monk: 'It was encouraging to realise that there were those in our business whose lot involved heavier lifting than mine.'

If you're really lucky, you get a good chuckle at the same time.

My moment of light relief came this week courtesy of an email from ERIC. No, I didn't know him either.

It turns out that he's an acronym, albeit a slightly inaccurate one as are many dreamed up by those in our profession seeking to cloak complex causes or unpalatable facts in a matey name.

ERIC denotes Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence. Presumably EARFICC wasn't thought to have quite the same ring as ERIC.

The purpose of ERIC's email was to alert me to Bedwetting Awareness Week. Having grabbed the attention, the email went on to plug ERIC's other campaign, entitled 'Lets Talk About Poo', aimed at raising awareness of the downside of childhood constipation.

Now I don't doubt the worthiness or even, possibly, the necessity of either of ERIC's causes.

But it was encouraging to realise that there were those in our business whose lot involved heavier lifting than mine. Plus ERIC brought a smile to my day.

Our industry's penchant for catchy but inaccurate acronyms is already the stuff of caricature. And the dependence of certain sectors on 'awareness days' had, I thought, long since surpassed satire.

The current year's calendar as supplied by Wikipedia includes Potato Awareness Week, Sleep-In Day and Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Awareness Day. Not to mention World Toilet Day, Towel Day, Orgasm Day, Let's Talk About Sex Week and Celebrate Your Name Week.

I have no reason to doubt that any of these awareness fests genuinely exists or that each one will be the subject of vigorous and earnest PR 'outreach' campaigns.

But for me none beats ERIC for sheer chutzpah.

And, because he reassured me that compassion and satire are alive and well in the PR industry, I shall be making him a small donation.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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