What we say, and more importantly, how we say it, greatly affects the way people perceive us. This is evidenced through the 2012 Presidential Election, or should be, anyway. Jeremy Story of Denver PR Blog, posted two infographics, taken from the New York Times website, during the 2012 conventions. Because I love the visual depiction of language and/or concepts, I found these to be particularly poignant.
In addition to frequency of word choice in the discourse around the election, one can learn a lot about the candidates based on the way they construct language around key issues. Since I missed the second presidential debate, I decided to review the debate transcript rather than watch the debates. I’d encourage every voting citizen to do this. In some cases, the words come across differently in the transcript than they do when watching the debate. While the reading may not cause you to change your vote, you might notice how the candidates talk about the same issues very differently. Their word choices alone represent their thoughts on the topic. While both candidates have strong messaging points they try to stick to during the debates, these are not scripted events with teleprompters. The language they use “off the cuff” can be very telling about how they view issues and constituents and the way they chose to describe them.
This is a good study in the effect of words and how we chose to use them, something central to our role as PR practitioners, managers and communicators in society. When writing emails, Facebook and Twitter posts, memos, news releases, etc., we should scrutinize our words for how they might be perceived and make sure we are always saying what we mean and meaning what we say.