Friday, February 3, 2006

The Language of PR

I googled my name today (I do this often) and found some newspaper articles from a Guatemalan paper that quoted my dad (same name as mine, or I guess I have his name). I've always been fascinated at the language people use when quoted in newspapers—it sounds so surreal. Especially in Guatemala when they quote, poor, uneducated people. All of the sudden they are eloquent people, which makes you wonder how much "translating" the reporters end up doing or if people just go into PR mode when they have a microphone in their face.

Either way, I was reading the quotes from my father and it hit me how foreign it sounded. What he does was in a bit of a controversy down there last year and I knew why—it basically has to do with corrupt and greedy people. My dad had done nothing wrong, but these quotes (like all quotes from high-ranking officials) reeked of guilt.

The language is indirect, passive, and obtuse. It doesn't sound like my father and it definitely makes it tough to believe what the person is saying.

This is PR. That's the way it works. There has to be some sort of revolution on the rise here because things can't keep going this way. People are jaded and this kind of language is meaningless now. This is NOT the way companies and officials are going to communicate in the future.

How will it change? What will it evolve into?

I don't know, but when I read what my father said to the papers and it gets across his honesty and sincerity, then I'll know we've gotten there: the perfect balance between effective communication and professional intimacy.


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