Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Word play

As one who reads and writes news stories for a living, I am continually amazed and revolted at the bastardization of the English language by PR people who write news releases for a living. My pet peeves are the overuse of the words “leading” and “solution.”

According to Merriam-Webster, the “leading” definition of “leading” is “coming or ranking first.” The definition of “solution” is “(a) an action or process of solving a problem,” or “(b) an answer to a problem.”

The fallacy of using “leading” to describe a company is obvious: Not every company is a leader. And a “solution” frequently causes more problems than it solves.

Here is a sample of offenders, taken from one day’s perusal of releases carried on the PRNewswire and Business Wire.

“Stratos Global Corp. (TSX: SGB), the leading global provider of advanced mobile and fixed-site remote communications solutions, today announced …”

“GetWellNetwork, Inc., a leading provider of Interactive Patient Care solutions, today announced …”

“I4 Commerce [helps] to connect leading merchants with high value customers. … I4 Commerce’s payment and marketing technology solutions help establish and maintain …”

“CDW Government, Inc. (CDW-G), a … leading source of Information Technology (IT) solutions to governments and educators, and Discovery Education, the leader in digital video and multimedia-based learning …”

My “solution” for this problem is simple: Just eliminate these two words from the public relations vocabulary.

Imagine what that would do for the quality of business writing.

-PAUL SAMUEL, Associate Editor

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