By: Melinda Isley, APR
By now many of us have learned what these letters mean in text messages, Facebook updates and Twitter posts. But is showing how hip we are to the younger set doing us PR professionals a disservice, especially since we have the AP Stylebook so ingrained in our brains that even our handwritten holiday and birthday cards follow proper AP style? I realize LOL and ROFL have been added to the Stylebook, but I decided to find out what some of our reporter and editor friends would think if we sent them emails or texts with these slang terms.
The News-Press’s Downtown Diva (Stephanie Davis) says she draws the line on social event notifications by text when the sender finds it too exhausting to spell out their words.
“Personally, I think we can learn a lot from the younger generation – I’m just not sure that knowing how not to spell out actual words is a valuable social skill,” she wrote in a recent column.
Cindy Pierce, editor of Naples Florida Weekly, says while she doesn’t text a lot and hasn’t noticed a lot of PR professionals emailing her with slang terms, she would be a little put off if it did occur.
“I just want them to be straightforward and tell me what I need to know,” she said.
“It seems like the nature of Facebook is to let those terms slide, but if you are trying to make a professional impression, I would say it’s a good idea not to use those shortcuts,” added Phil Borchmann, editor of Gulfshore Business Magazine.
The News-Press reporter Francesca Donlan had an interesting example to share.
“This is a TRUE actual email sent to me: Hi Francesca, Do you think it’s OK/PC to use “WTF” in a press release about a Teen Camp that is going to teach texting/email etiquette to kids? I polled all the reporters around me and we sent back a resounding NOOOOOOOOO. I think it’s perfectly fine to do it in friendly emailing and appropriate considering the context but generally, I would say no. It just says teenager to me!”
“Slang and texting shorthand destroys the credibility of the message,” said Darrel Lieze-Adams, executive news director and manager of promotions for Waterman Broadcasting. “We get emails from viewers daily upset over misspellings and mistakes in our grammar. Having a complete command of the English language does not include using cute, trendy jive. Just because people say “ain’t” doesn’t mean it should become an acceptable part of our vernacular!”
In today’s fast-paced electronic world, let’s remember to present our professional selves and our writing first in all our communications to ensure we aren’t jeopardizing a mutually beneficial relationship down the road.
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