Avoiding jargon in releases, Web video tips, and more

How do I avoid using buzzwords or jargon in press releases?

How do I avoid using buzzwords or jargon in press releases?

Every industry has jargon and that's not necessarily bad, notes Burson-Marsteller's Steve Fox. Jargon is essentially verbal shorthand used to communicate with someone else who already understands what you mean, he adds.

"For example, in TV news, 'wallpaper' means generic video used to fill the airtime during a voiceover," notes Fox. "You have to look at something, right?" So jargon can speed communication with an internal audience. But jargon is a barrier when it comes to external communications, he warns.

"Buzzwords are jargon's evil twin," he says. "They lose meaning from misuse and overuse. Take the word 'solution.' It appears in nearly every tech press release, even when the product or service being written about solves nothing."

There are some good tools to weed out jargon and buzzwords, Fox says. "Avoid acronyms at all costs," he advises. "Show a draft of your copy to someone who isn't familiar with the topic and who's not afraid to be a critic. Have them identify every word and phrase they don't clearly understand. Chances are, jargon or buzzwords are the culprits."

Web video

How do I make Web video work for me or my client?

Personalizing a company by videotaping the CEO can be done even more simply and inexpensively for the Web, says Amy Goldwert Eskridge of AGE Productions. "A short interview featuring a company spokesperson who can deliver key messages is effective because it is a controlled environment, not the pressure you can feel on live TV," she adds.

While some Web sites are video-capable, others may not be. "If a company can't host the video directly on their site they can link it to another site like BriefingPost.com where the video can be viewed by potential customers, investors, organization members, and the media," notes Eskridge.

"Keep the Web video short," she advises, "as visitors won't stay stagnant for too long, no matter how interesting it is. And hire an experienced producer who can ensure the best on-camera performance by using professional video equipment, lighting, and producing techniques."

Handling criticism

How do I best address negative news and comments about my organization appearing on various Web sites and blogs?

"The Internet, though very helpful for PR pros, carries great risk for our organizations and clients," says Jeff Jubelirer of Ceisler Jubelirer. Unlike traditional media, such as papers that carry reporter bylines and typically name sources, stories and comments that appear on blogs or Web sites aren't necessarily attributed to a source. "Therefore, disparaging remarks can appear anonymously," he warns.

"It's not feasible to respond to every comment or story," says Jubelirer, "but you needn't react in a piecemeal fashion."

He advises to keep four things in mind. First, gauge the impact of each critic. It's easy to set up a Web page and blast away, but if no one sees it, the impact is null. Second, directly respond to a critic yourself or have the client do so. This is more credible than an anonymous response.

"Do not solely rely on Web-based tactics to respond," he adds. "Many criticisms appear both online and offline and merit responses in both environments. Finally, and above all else, be cognizant of any legal ramifications in responding."

The courts have, to date, ruled that the First Amendment protects anonymous postings on Web sites and blogs because federal law does not hold bloggers liable as "publishers," explains Jubelirer.

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