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The Lesson behind AP’s ‘Email’ Change

Posted on: March 28th, 2011 by: Tom Groff

Sayonara, superfluous hyphens and spaces. The Associated Press has finally acknowledged prevailing use of “email” and “cellphone” as compound nouns.

Silly and insignificant as this development may seem to some people, last week’s AP style changes hold a good lesson for any marketing communications professional.

It’s about more than punctuation dictates. It’s about communicating clearly to your audiences. And that starts with using the same words, in the same way they do. As terminology and technology evolve, you have to keep up to stay in the conversation.

A little caution is necessary, however: Jumping on every latest buzzword bandwagon also risks alienating and confusing audiences (or just seeming desperate).

As much as I might mock the AP for being unhip, there’s something to be said for their measured approach of waiting a while to see what sticks. And so it’s “email,” at last—until email itself no longer exists, I suppose.

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