Words Matter

Posted by on July 29th, 2013

On my first day of working at KCSA this past June, I read over the edits one of my supervisors had made on the first draft of a press release.

“What does this mean?” read the comment bubble. “Words have to have a meaning.”

I was instantly brought back to a moment in 7th grade when I was writing an English paper on To Kill a Mockingbird. My father waved my first draft in his hands, exasperated, and issued the same exact advice.

“What exactly are you trying to say here?” he asked. “Words have to have a meaning!”

As an undergraduate who majored in English, I was curious about how you transfer the skills you learn in college—researching, debating, synthesizing information—into something more practical. I knew that I wanted to break into the field of communications and deeply believed that I could use the skills I’d honed in my classes. But I did not exactly understand how that would happen. What was transferable?

On that first day working at KCSA, I realized the possible connection between my undergraduate studies and the professional world of public relations. The importance of words—the particularity of them and the need for craft, for care—never fades. In my two months at KCSA I have watched my supervisors revise content again and again, constantly searching for the best way to express exactly what they need to say. They value the connotation and denotation of each word, weigh the difference between various forms of punctuation, and edit as meticulously as possible. This process is not just for press releases or lengthier documents— it’s for each and every tweet we make for a client.

It seems almost so obvious as to be banal, but it’s easily forgotten: words should mean something. True, there are multiple ways to communicate the same message, and some words are, arguably, interchangeable. But if I’ve learned anything from my supervisors, it’s that there are many good ways and one better way, and that’s what we strive for here at KCSA.