Grammar Happy: PR newbies, avoid these common mistakes

25.04.16 common grammar mistakes

If you’re new to PR, don’t repeat the grammar faux pas made by other PR professionals.

Here are a handful of mistakes that won’t go down well if you are trying to influence a journalist.

Passive voice

The passive voice sucks the life out of a press release. It takes the urgency out of a breaking news story and can confuse the journalist at the receiving end.

Passive sentences are grammatically correct. The reason we avoid them is because they are awkward and sometimes vague, and when you are trying to quickly communicate a message to a journalist with a deadline, you don’t want to confuse them with a foggy message.


When you capitalise a sentence, it indicates that you are shouting. Like this: “ARRGGH!” That’s the sound of a journalist spotting a series of capitalised headlines in their inbox.

Journalists, who are picky about grammar for obvious reasons, get annoyed by shouty subject lines, so QUIT IT.

No justice for jargon

What you consider marketing lingo is cold, dead, empty jargon to a journalist.

Over-used words like “implement”, “utilise”, “game-changer” and so on sound sophisticated, but are a huge pet peeves for journalists.

They want a clear, concise, no-nonsense message so don’t try and dress-up your press release with fancy, flowery, meaningless words.

The paragraph to nowhere

Novelists are free to write in long, endless paragraphs à la James Joyce or Will Self—PR professionals are not.

The rule of thumb is that you should create a new paragraph for each new idea.

It’s okay for a paragraph to only be a sentence long—in fact, most news reports are written that way (this is so the paragraphs will fit into a newspaper column).

For more Grammar Happy tips, click here. can help you with your communications needs. If you need help with your marketing, branding or public relations, we can help. See here or call Gaye on (01) 254 1845.

Conor – @conormcmahon