By: Donald Smith
A main objective of public relations material is to get your target publics excited about your company’s news. However, is it possible to be too excited and use too many exclamation points? It would seem other PR professionals say yes.
Exclamation points are generally used to communicate excitement and joy. But an
important note to remember is not every piece of communication calls for excitement. For example, a reminder about a networking mixer, which is held monthly is run-of-the-mill news and is not bringing any innovative knowledge. Therefore, it is not something to constantly bring excitement to, unless there is a novel aspect brought to it.
In a Business Insider article it was stated that in early March the United Kingdom’s Department of Education set new guidelines for exclamation points in its national standardized tests. The new guidelines are students will only be given credit when using exclamation points in certain sentences such as those beginning with “what” and “how.”
PR professionals’ views are similar to the UK’s in that we need to curb our usage of exclamation points to increase its effectiveness, as well as the professionalism of certain PR materials such as the press release.
Vertical Response’s blog says press releases are a formal company announcement and require professionalism of the highest degree. It compares press releases to accredited and renowned publications such as Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek. Then says how one would not find an arbitrary exclamation point in them, so why put one inside a company’s press release.
Then in Hughes PR’s blog it gives a couple of measures to determine whether or not an exclamation point is appropriate. Several measures are: is the message exciting to the target audience; is the message emotional; is the message surprising; is the style of the communication causal or formal; and what is the personality and voice of the organization?
Lastly, a PR Daily article gives another six guidelines to using exclamation points.
- Use sparingly to ensure effective when used.
- One is enough, using three does not make it more urgent.
- Do not combine it with other punctuation marks, like question marks.
- Consider the context and the purpose of the communication.
- Use if you are being personal.
- Show your enthusiasm, if it is sincere.
Now, get out there and make those exclamation points more effective!