A guide for swearing in PR
22nd October 2013
What is your favourite swear word? When I swear, I like to swear properly, and for me that means using the “F” word. In my opinion, swear words are part of the language, so they should be used.
However, there is a time and a place. Journalists are free to f and blind as much as they like. But, if you work in PR you aren’t supposed to offend people, so it is wise to be more circumspect when it comes to using bad language.
Here’s my guide to swearing in PR:
1. A well-placed swear word can wake people up, it might even make them laugh. So consider using one swear word in a presentation, if you think the audience can take it (do not start blaspheming in a convent). Once is enough though, don’t go all Hugh Grant from Four Weddings and a Funeral.
2. No matter how much the red mist descends, never call anyone names – you always lose the moral high ground. This should be left to journalists.
3. Judge your audience. If you are speaking to a delicate creature who may swoon at a profanity, steer clear of swearing. If you want to test out your companion, try using a more gentle swear word first, such as “bastard” and see how that goes down before moving on to the hard stuff.
4. Don’t overdo it. Just because your first swear word has not made your companion faint, there is no need to go overboard.
5. Don't use your swear words accurately. If someone really is as thick as shit, the truth may hurt.
6. Don’t shout the swear word, you are highly likely to scare people and in a professional environment, this may not be the look you’re aiming for.
7. Be aware of generation gaps. In an attempt to liven up my church going mother in law, I once tried swearing in front of her. It didn't go well and it is definitely not to be repeated.