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Posts tagged ‘names’

Journalists vs. PR practitioners: trick questions

oana vasiliuDays ago, I wrote an article about do’s and do not’s for media interviews, from Crisis Communications A Casebook Approach written by Fern Banks. Today, I’m going to write trick questions that journalists use to obtain more spicy information.

  • speculative questions begin with if – “If an earthquake had happened during business hours, how many people would have been killed or injured? “
  • leading questions imply that the reporter already has the answer – “You do agree that the company could have avoided this tragedy, right ?”
  • loaded questions are designed to elicit an emotional response – “Isn’t it true that you knew there was asbestos in the ceiling and failed to do anything about it ?”
  • naive questions indicate that the reporter had not done any homework and does not know what to ask – “Tell me, what does your company do ?”
  • false questions intentionally contain inaccurate details in them – “You fired half of over-50 staff, right ?” where the public relations professional, knowing the statistic is wrong, could counter with “No, only 40%”, not realizing the reporter was aiming for that information all along.
  • know-it-all questions begin with “We have the story. I just need a few wrap-up facts.” The reporter may want you to merely confirm an already formed viewpoint.
  • silence is used by reporters who want you to spill your guts, to talk on and on.
  • accusatory questions are designed to force you to blame others
  • multiple-part questions can be confusing to you as well as to the public. Ask which part you should ask first, then answer each part as separate question.
  • jargonistic  questions are those in which technical words or professional jargon are used.
  • chummy questions are those in which the reporter, pretending to be your buddy, may ask – “Say, pal, off the record, what do you think … ?”
  • labeling questions aim to make issues negative or simplistic by seeming to ask for clarity – “Would you call the company’s work schedule stressful ?”
  • good-bye questions are posed at the end of an interview and may even come after the camera or tape recorder is turned off – “By the way …”

If you want to discover what these trick questions can do, I highly recommend you to watch All the President’s Men , where two journalists Woodward and Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Nixon’s resignation.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Pronunciation and spelling – big issues

oana vasiliuWe have to admit that not everyone has a natural language talent and can pronounce correctly names, places, locations, especially if these aren’t in the native language.

Spelling city offers us some scientific explications, which are extremely useful.

The importance of spelling has been questioned in recent years, as word processing programs are equipped with spell checkers, and some educational reformists have suggested that focusing on spelling holds back the creative processes of writing.  Reading Specialist Susan Jones, M.Ed., has researched how spelling improves reading and writing fluency and how it improves vocabulary and comprehension.  Professor Jones helps Vocabulary and SpellingCity.com as a member of the newly-formed educational advisory committee.  Below is her recent paper debunking some common myths about spelling and helping to establish the importance of spelling in education.

The Importance of Spelling
by Susan Jones, M. Ed.  2/2009

Spelling over the last few years has been the subject of a commonly mailed piece of Internet “wisdom.” And I quote:

 Aoccdrnig to rscheearch by the Lngiusiitc Dptanmeret at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.Translation: According to research by the Linguistic Department at Cambridge University, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place.  The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole.
This paragraph has been widely circulated on the Internet since 2003, and it is still referred to, either as a point of interest or to defend inconsistent (poor) spelling, or choosing not to teach it. Is it because it rings of the truth that it makes scholars and educators cringe? Hardly. Among other things, there was no such research, and the words in the passage don’t follow the rule of “only the first and last words matter.”  It’s a myth. It is fluent readers who can figure out this highly predictable text – and the path to fluent reading includes a firm foundation in the sounds represented by letters and their spelling .
oana vasiliu

In journalism and PR, these issues are extremely important: your mistakes are seen by thousands if not millions of persons. Some of these mistakes are drastically punished, from cuts of salary to losing their jobs.

Online TV, in the breaking news section, is the most predictable place to make mistakes. You may have a prompter, but transmitting live can be sometimes overwhelming, especially if the subject is very juicy.

Please take a look on Obama vs Osama:

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

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