Wish #1. Insist on Accuracy in Messaging

By Anne McCarthy

The day of ‘blarney ’ is over (until next St. Patrick’s Day 2019!).

In my most recent blog, I used the phrase ‘words matter.’ I thought a good deal about this phrase, especially within the context of the news cycle over the past week.

I believe in the phrase ‘words matter’ and I believe we in the business community need to set the standard.

When I studied journalism back in the day, we were fixated on writing crisp, accurate content. We knew the difference between a news story, a feature story, an investigative piece and an op-ed piece.

Today the lines are blurred.

We used to research topics – rely on neutral third-party sources. We interviewed experts on both sides of the topic or issue. We looked for third party attribution. We were very conscious of our responsibility NOT to commit libel or slander or drag anyone’s good name through the mud as we published our content. And, most important, we focused on not becoming the news or part of the story (unless it was an op-ed piece).

Where have those good old-fashioned journalistic practices gone?

Admittedly, we have many more channels of communication today than we did when I studied journalism.  But where are the rules of the road for the multitude of content producers who are now publishing at will?

I believe no matter how tight our deadlines or how much we’re multi-tasking, the business community needs to set new standards in accurate messaging. Here’s a little food for thought for writers and readers alike:

1.      Rely on known third-party sources and publications.

2.      Understand the difference between an opinion piece and a news piece.

3.      Insist on attribution.

4.      Take time to check sources and facts.

5.      Agree that words matter, before publishing or endorsing content.

I believe in miracles, don’t you?

Next week, the Westmeath blog will focus on Wish #2: Eliminate Jargon, Empty Words and Pabulum.

Westmeath is a global business communications consultancy. The Westmeath network of expert business communicators simplify the complexity, drive clarity and deliver business results.