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The importance of using correct pronouns in public relations

By Alexandra Sharp

What gender-neutral communications look like

 

A person typing on a computer.An integral part of public relations is respect: respect for your customers, your audience, and the community you serve. One of the simplest ways to show your respect is to use someone’s correct pronouns. Misgendering an individual not only shows your lack of interest, but it can deeply hurt the person you are referring to. 

 

So with that in mind, what does pronoun use look like in public relations?

 

 

Whenever someone in your company meets someone new, ask the person what they’re preferred pronouns are. And then, more importantly, remember to use them in all forms of communication. That means using the correct pronouns in articles, press releases, social media content, interviews, and meetings.

 

For example, my pronouns are she/her. That means if you address me, you should say, “she wrote this article.” If my pronouns were they/them, then you’d say, “they wrote this article.” See? Pretty easy!

 

Not sure what someone’s pronouns are and don’t have the chance to ask them? Use gender-neutral language. This can be in the form of they/them pronouns or it can take the form of gender-neutral job descriptions. For example, rather than saying chairman or chairwoman, say chairperson. Instead of spokesman or spokeswoman, say spokesperson. Not too complicated, right?

 

And if you’re referring to a group of people, also use gender-neutral language unless you are positive that every member of the group uses the same pronouns. Instead of chairmen or chairwomen, say chair members.


Still not sure what to do and a style guide doesn’t have the answer you’re looking for? Ask questions, be respectful, and remain open-minded.

 

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Topics: PR tips, copy editing

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