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You say effect and I say affect

29 May

This is unfortunate (and it’s rather unhelpful of me to point it out), but how about this from a spokesperson for two dyslexia charities responding to an academic’s claim that the condition is/are in effect/affect not real? I know, the mistakes are the BBC reporter’s and editor’s too:

Once again dyslexia seems to be making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It is frustrating that the focus should be on whether dyslexia exists or not and claims that it does not is very upsetting to the one in 10 people that it effects.

Effect or affect; its or it’s; compliment or complement. There are some spelling and grammar problems that are so common that they shouldn’t catch anyone out anymore (accommodation anyone?). There are so many harder ones to adjudicate between: adviser or advisor; judgment or judgement, focuses or focusses etc.

The food issue

16 May

Btsjan07 Food is nutritional, fashionable, cultural and political. It’s also big business.

Now that issue 16 of Behind the Spin (the environmental issue) has been published, we’re looking for ideas for issue 17 of the public relations magazine for students and young practitioners. You could write about:

That’s without mentioning drink. But what are your ideas? Brief proposals are welcome now (copy deadline will be in August). Please send your ideas to John Hitchins or to me.

The devil is in the detail

28 Mar

Spot the difference:

  • XYZ Corporation were loyal to our customers
  • XYZ Corporation we’re loyal to our customers

One small apostrophe for man or woman, one giant reversal of meaning. That’s why punctuation isn’t pointless, as Lynne Truss has so lucratively explained.

I’m spinning around

2 Feb

Issue 15 of Behind the Spin (the public relations magazine for students and young practitioners) has been published. Thank you to all our contributors.

The next issue will appear in May. Ideas and articles should be sent to John Hitchins (JHitchins[at]], preferably on one of the following themes:

  • PR for environmental causes
  • Adventure travel experiences of PR students and graduates

Remember, remember fifteenth of December

1 Dec

Contributions are arriving for the next issue of the UK PR student magazine, Behind the Spin (copy deadline 15 December).

This is a public reminder for those who’ve promised articles but have yet to submit them. And a reminder that there’s still time to come forward with new ideas, particularly if they relate to our two main themes:

  • PR for fashion and beauty
  • The public relations consultancy business

Articles are welcome from students, practitioners and academics. The editorial contact for this issue is me: r[dot]s[dot]bailey@leedsmet[dot]ac[dot]uk

Read-write challenges

3 Oct

We’ve heard Colin Farrington’s views on blogs: they’re badly written. (He’s the director general of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.) For the record: I agree, yet this criticism misses the point.

Now he’s using his member magazine column to attack public relations academics for ‘writing in a style that bars the way to busy working people’. Once again, I do agree (though as a public relations lecturer who blogs I might be feeling a bit defensive by now.) It’s not dumb to be clear, nor is it clever to overcomplicate.

I started the PR Books wiki to bring together the best of academic and practitioner texts in some recommended reading lists. And the sources cited are not just books: they’re newspaper articles, web pages and, yes, blogs.

Public relations practice is challenging on many levels, but it’s above all an intellectual challenge. So we need to be open to ideas and receive them from many directions, books and blogs included.

Novel thinking

26 Sep

What are you reading? My question to new students on our courses has been met with a mixed response. There were some surprising answers (could they have known the question was coming?) – but too many blank stares.

Here’s the challenge. If you won’t read, then I can’t help you to write. If you don’t read, then you won’t be equipped to cope with senior public relations roles. Don’t believe me? Then check out the references in Andy Green’s latest book, Effective Personal Communication Skills for Public Relations. The author’s a PR consultant, not an academic, but he reads widely and voraciously around science, business, literature and psychology.

What am I reading? In fiction, I’m in a campus novel groove. Zadie Smith’s On Beauty mixes race, intellect and academic rivalry in a US campus. Before that Tom Wolfe’s massive I am Charlotte Simmons, ostensibly about sex and elitism in a top US university, seemed to me to be a morality tale about a declining civilisation.

You may think fiction has nothing to teach us. Consider this: Zadie Smith’s first novel, White Teeth, first published in 2000, depicted a group of disaffected non-white young men in north London. Their organisation: the Keepers of the Eternal and Vigilant Islamic Nation (KEVIN). The group was more menacing than this satirical name suggests, and in the five years since 9/11 every newspaper and magazine has written about this phenomenon.