Words matter – but don’t shoot the press officer – article by Sally Baxter

Sally Baxter

The path from shrinking newsrooms to the bulging corridors of corporate communications and government media units is a well-trodden one. Many journalists, your own Girl Reporter included, have sought a crust by writing press releases. Some of them may even have been poorly worded.

The process of preparing a press release is time-consuming and thankless but it is never careless. Long before it sees the light of day a press release is pored over by increasingly senior levels of management. Their concern is understandable – a poorly worded press release can commit a government to policy outcomes far beyond what was ever intended.

This week in Australia we saw that a poorly worded press release can put protesters on the streets of Melbourne within an hour and disrupt an operational matter which would have put jackboots on the ground with the intention of “speaking with any individual we cross paths…

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