In Brief: Work Email Punctuation; AI Functions

June 1, 2018


Cision Study Shows What Journalists Look for in Press Releases

According to Cision’s 2018 “State of the Media” report, 45 percent of journalists think that the No. 1 way PR professionals can improve their press releases is to be clearer about the news hook in a pitch.  

“Press releases are not so easily pulled apart,” said Anthony Ha, a TechCrunch reporter, during a Cision webcast on the “State of the Media” data on April 24. “[You want to know] who sent it, what it’s about and what the actual news is.”

With a 27 percent consensus among surveyed journalists, the second most-popular key to effective press releases was avoiding jargon in favor of a more conversational tone. “Too much jargon inhibits the [storytelling],” added Sara Fischer, an Axios writer. “PR pros need to put on their journalist hats. If a press release has a ton of jargon, it looks like an earnings release.”


Why Employees Should Limit Exclamation Points in Work Emails

In the days before widespread digital communication, exclamation points were saved for extreme emotional reactions — excitement, astonishment and frustration. But now, it’s rare to find a simple “Hello” message that isn’t peppered with at least three of these punctuation marks.

If you’re casually texting with a friend, then it’s fine to end all your sentences with exclamation points. However, Fast Company communication expert Judith Humphrey believes that exclamation points should be used more sparingly in work emails, as they can introduce “vague emotional subtexts between workers.”

As Humphrey says, “If a manager writes to a team member: ‘I’m looking forward to receiving the project update!’ [then] how is that exclamation mark to be interpreted? Is the manager expressing excitement about receiving the update, or anxiety that it may not be delivered on time?”

To prevent such ambiguities, she recommends that employees are transparent and straightforward with their sentence structuring in work emails. “If we want to be emotionally intelligent,” she says, “we should use language and punctuation marks that are clear in their meaning.”

Consumers Mostly Use AI for Its Rudimentary Functions

Smart devices are capable of cutting-edge abilities such as shopping, talking to chatbots and controlling other smart devices. Yet, a recent PwC survey finds that most voice assistant owners prefer to only tap into AI’s most basic features.

At least once a month, 82 percent of users ask their voice assistants to play music. But during that same time frame, only 50 percent of respondents use their assistants to buy or order something online.

Similarly, when asked if they’d rather text a friend via a voice assistant or do it manually, 58 percent chose the former. However, 76 percent of respondents would rather shop online themselves than have their assistant do it for them.

Despite these statistics, PwC attributes this lack of AI experimentation to limited consumer knowledge, which may change as smart devices become more integrated into daily life. As an anonymous respondent surveyed by PwC says, “The biggest hurdle for me has been awareness, like understanding what I’m able to do with these devices.”

How Workers Feel About Instant Messaging at the Office

Instant messaging is changing workplace communication, as companies scramble to adopt secure apps to replace consumer versions such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that young employees have used on their smartphones for years, The Wall Street Journal reported on April 17.

Though email is still the leading form of business communication, many workers are welcoming the transition. For instance, younger employees enjoy using slang and emojis in instant messages, and say they’re relieved not to have to worry about grammar or punctuation. Also, some staffers believe that instant messages reduce the need for meetings and make it easier to sustain conversations among team members.

However, older workers are more skeptical. Tim Tolan, CEO at executive search company The Tolan Group in St. Augustine, Fla., says he’s taken aback when employees use messaging tools to share photos of their lunches on the office feed. “I come from a different era,” he says. “I don’t really need to see a plate of spaghetti.”


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