More PR Tools: Come on Ontario doctors, how can you advise the population with such sloppy writing?

I am continually amazed at how first rate organizations like the Ontario Medical Association pay good money to newswires to distribute such flawed news releases. The copy below commits numerous fundamental errors, including word repeats that can easily be avoided. Here’s how: 



Staying safe – Top 10 things Ontario doctors are asking you for this holiday season (15 words)

Better PR Writer edit

Staying safe – OMA doctors offer Top 10 tips this holiday season (12 words)

Is it worth editing to eliminate three words? Always!

  • “Things” is one of those words that should always be eliminated, so loose and unclear. “Tips” is much more active and accurate
  • As will be seen in this story, ‘you’ is almost always unnecessary and wastes space and time. 
  • As well, who are ‘Ontario doctors?’ That has no credibility. The OMA, which isn’t instantly recognizable, is still a leading professional association, representing all the doctors. People believe that trade associations have wisdom and knowledge. Just ‘doctors’ is too nebulous. 

Original lead

TORONTO, Dec. 22, 2020 /CNW/ – All Ontario doctors want this holiday season is your continued safety and good health. 

Better PR Writer edit

TORONTO, Dec. 22, 2020 /CNW/ – To assure the population’s continued good health, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) has revealed the 10 most important tips to stay safe this holiday season. 

There are more words but that’s not the point. ‘All Ontario doctors want this holiday season’ is a false assertion that is unknown. As doctors, it’s likely that they do wish for our ‘good health.’ It’s just so much stronger to introduce the OMA as a source and get rid of ‘your,’ as readers do know they are being addressed.

Original first paragraph

The best gift you can give is the gift of health. It’s essential that everyone follow public health guidelines – handwashing, mask-wearing, physical distancing and the government’s new shutdown restrictions – so we can spread cheer not COVID-19. The decisions we make during the next few weeks will have a direct impact on how many people get sick from COVID-19 as we head into a new year.

Dr. Samantha Hill, OMA President

Better PR Writer edit

Health, the best gift of all, will happen when Ontarians follow public health guidelines – handwashing, mask-wearing, physical distancing and the government’s new shutdown restrictions, the OMA says.  “As the New Year approaches, decisions in the next few weeks will have a direct impact on who gets sick from COVID-19,” said Dr. Samantha Hill, president, Ontario Medical Association (OMA) “Let’s spread cheer, not the virus.”

Now providing a quote from the Association’s president identifies the authority, important in these stories. 

The underlined words are all flabby. Three uses of ‘we,’ also ‘you’ and ‘it is essential that,’ where it clauses can almost always be eliminated, sometimes replaced by an adverb ‘essentially’ though I did not make that edit here. 

The next heading demonstrates how ‘you’ weighs down the copy—17 words vs. 11. No need to mention ‘Ontario’s doctors’ as by now it’s clear who the credible spokesperson is. The 10 steps are moved to the front as that’s the essential information. The command structure also makes it more authoritative. Note how ‘keep your family and you safe’ turns into ‘keep your family and community safe.’ 

To keep your family, community and you safe, Ontario’s doctors ask that you take these 10 steps: (17 words)

Take these 10 steps to keep your family and community safe: (11 words)

The next sections are without comment as an example of word reductions with the paragraph slashed by almost 20 per cent from 57 to 46 words. 

  1. Celebrate only with members of your household.
  2. Celebrate only with your own household.


The virus spreads when people come into contact with each otherIt is essential that you avoid gathering with anyone other than household members. If you live alone, you may consider joining one other household. This doesn’t mean you can’t connect with friends and family. Explore virtual* options for celebrating together and create new virtual holiday traditions. (57 words) *Never repeat the same word twice in one sentence.

Better PR Writer Edit

The virus spreads by contact. Avoid gathering with anyone other than household members. Those living alone should consider joining another household if possible. Take care of mental health by connecting with friends and family and exploring virtual options for celebrating together and creating new holiday traditions. (46 words)

Who knows, maybe I can do this for you. Use the contact form to reach me. 

Author: rotmanprwriter

PRWriter, Copy Doctor, Humber College PR and writing Prof

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