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January 22, 2010
A Word Gives Wii an Underserved Edge Over Real Life

Sometimes a small focus proves helpful in making a big point: Watch the words you use in print.

The owner of a bowling center in Central Pennsylvania told the Harrisburg Patriot-News a dip in his business is due not only to a recent smoking ban and the weak economy but also to the popularity of Nintendo's Wii bowling game.

"I do think the Wiis affect us," he said. "People find Wii [bowling] so easy, and then when they come bowling it's a lot more difficult than playing a Wii." 

"Difficult" is an unfortunate word. "Challenging" would have been much better.

It isn't that difficult to send a bowling ball down an alley if you're using the right-sized ball, but it's challenging -- and fun -- to knock down enough real pins. 

Why give electronic Wii an underserved edge over actual bowling when business is weak enough as it is?

This goes to a point we've made before. Consider, at least a little, what you want to say before talking with the media, even if the question comes, as it may have here, in a telephone call from a reporter. Framing matters. Media interviews should be relaxed but not casually given. They represent an opportunity, yes, but word choice counts. 

Of course, the bowling-alley owner might have been helped by prior PR counsel on a point like this. I Wonder if he has a firm.


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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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