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Glossary a Worthy Addition to Your Utility Press Kits

image credit: ID 38181220 © Leung Cho Pan |
Andy Gotlieb's picture
Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner Freelancer

I hold 34 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too.  The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various...

  • Member since 2016
  • 1,004 items added with 508,311 views
  • Dec 28, 2021

Every industry/field/profession/specialty/hobby/lifestyle typically has a significant amount of jargon tied to it.

As a journalist, I know the significance of a cutline, a lede, the number 30 and a nut graf, but I wouldn’t expect you to have an idea what they mean. In case you’re curious, a cutline is a photo caption, a lede is the first paragraph of a story, the number 30 at the end of the story means “the end” and a nut graf is a paragraph that encapsulates the meaning of a story and why it’s important.

In the same vein, you wouldn’t expect John Q. Public to know what bus bars do, the meaning of coincident demand or the significance of nonincendive field wiring.

Since John Q. Public includes the journalists who may be covering your utility (I’m excluding industry publication journalists, who will have a better understanding of the industry), it’s imperative that they understand what you’re talking about at all times.

That means your press releases should be as free from industry jargon as possible and when anyone from your utility speaks to the press, they do so in easily understandable terms. A good way to see if a press release is free from confusing jargon is to have someone you trust from outside the utility that is at least reasonably intelligent read it in advance. If they’re confused at any point, you can guarantee some reporter will be as well.

Even better, your utility press kits should contain a glossary of commonly used terms. That can prevent reporters from Googling what an unfamiliar term means and coming up with a potentially incorrect answer. The internet is a wellspring of bad information.

Your glossary doesn’t have to be long – two pages tops – but it should highlight important concepts that are integral to how your utility conducts its business and how electricity is produced, stored, transferred and delivered. Each definition only needs to be a sentence or two long. With anything longer, you run the risk of being tuned out.

As always, the ultimate goal of public relations is to get media coverage that is accurate, informative and puts your utility in the best possible light. Media comprehension goes a long way in making that happen.

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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