Toxic Shower Curtains… or a sign of things to come?

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Woke up to find a link to this New York Times story in my inbox.

Albeit a tad depressing given the context, it’s also an important reminder of the “art of strategic word selection” as a means to grab the attention of media and influencers via both the newswires and the search engines. Equally important, however, it highlights the rising “sensationalist” tide that pervades today’s media environment, and the potential for damage that it can cause.

“With varying amounts of credulousness, other outlets ran with it as well, including U.S. News & World Report, The Daily News in New York, MSNBC.com and The Los Angeles Times. The gist of some of the coverage was that it was all a tempest in a bathtub, though other reports took the information at face value.”

While this story about toxic shower curtains appears to have been successfully debunked by most mainstream media from the outset, the fact that even some took the information at “face value” is worrisome. Quite simply, the potential for other questionable research to cause significantly greater and longer-term damage to an organization or industry given the rush to publish, appears to be increasing, particularly as stories are picked up and shared across the social web. Vigilance will be critical.

On a lighter note, however, I agree fully with one PR expert’s assertion – cited in the same article – that such dreck as “solutions,” “leading edge,” “cutting edge,” “state of the art,” “mission critical,” and “turnkey” are, without question, the kiss of death.

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