messaging in public relations

When Cute Doesn’t Cut It: Rep. Ed Markey on the East Coast Earthquake

By Communications, Crisis Communications, Media, Public Relations

The east coast earthquake of late August, 2011 may have damaged (perhaps insignificantly) the North Anna nuclear power plant situated 12 miles from the quake’s epicenter. NBC Washington reported the story, quoting Representative Ed Markey, D-Mass. from a statement urging further research into the safety of the plant. 

“Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., sent a letter last week to the NRC pressing the agency to determine whether the ground motion exceeded North Anna’s design and

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to use the most up-to-date geological information to assess risks to nuclear power plants.

“There needs to be a seismic shift in the way in which these plants are protected from earthquakes or other natural disasters,” Markey said in a statement.”

I suspect a staffer in Markey’s office thought they were being cute, throwing the phrase “seismic shift” into a statement about an earthquake, but tensions are high, and weak humor from politicians (or their writers) is not at all appreciated.

Costly natural disasters are no time for puns; it’s important to be careful with language, even if you think it will never reach the masses.