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May 20, 2010
A Not So Entertaining News Release

Here's an example of a lack of attention to stylistic issues that sometimes becomes exasperating in news releases -- from the lead of an Edelman release issued today in London and Los Angeles (we suspect it was written in London). "Research launched today by Edelman ..." the release begins.

Now, to us, "launched" suggests "just begun," and indeed, the American Heritage dictionary lists as one of the word's meanings, "to set going; initiate." Another is, "to put (a boat) into the water in readiness for use."

If the Edelman writer made any resort to the dictionary (probably not), he or she likely would have seized on "to introduce to the public or to a market," or "to throw or propel with force," as the preferred meanings of the word.

It's incumbent on PR writers to pick words that will be clearest to the most people, and not open the possibility of the sort of frustration we're expressing here. Because the Edelman release is apparently reporting on a survey whose results are complete. In other words, the release is announcing or disclosing those results, not launching the survey that produced them.

With this irksome preamble, we note that the Edelman survey shows social networks are providing a valued entertainment experience for consumers, especially in the 18-34 age group, second only to television. In other words, consumers are viewing social networks as fun, which is likely a key factor in their rapid spread -- and something for PR people to be mindful of in considering their use as feedback mechanisms.

Says Gail Becker, president of Edelman's Western region: "While not surprising that TV tops the list, seeing the Internet rank second as a source of entertainment -- evolving from its origins as a source of information -- is significant. We believe that all companies today exist in this new era that we call social entertainment and we will continue to see its influence on how consumers and companies engage with entertainment and with each other."

Have fun with the Edelman release. 


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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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