Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

The AP Sanctions "Hopefully": What It Means for Your On Hold Marketing

I love to read about the quirks of the English language and how they came to be, so I subscribe to Grammar Girl's blog at Quick and Dirty Tips. It's perfect for those times when you can't decide between affect and effect or complimentary and complementary. She's also a great source for the why of language, and often teaches me something new.

editing a document for on hold programsFor example, did you know that, until the most recent revision to its style guide, the Associated Press didn't condone the use of the word "Hopefully" at the beginning of a sentence? I've been doing it wrong all of my life! 

"Hopefully" may not be a word you use in your on hold communications, but linguistic changes are something you should be aware of. When communicating with your customers in a Message On Hold program, you should always pay attention to changes in pronunciation, meaning, and validity.

Changes in Pronunciation

Over time, the way we pronounce words changes. Frequently, changes occur to make language more economical. For example, many people now say feb-you-ary instead of feb-roo-ary, probably because the former is just a little bit easier to say. Because callers like to hear words pronounced the same way they talk, it's important to know when these changes happen. If you know your callers, it shouldn't be hard to give your scriptwriter the right information about pronunications.

Changes in Meaning

Define the word "tweet". Did you say, "the sound a bird makes" or "an update on Twitter"? This is just one recent example of a word shifting in meaning. Because language is fluid, it's important to "keep up with the times" and use the words your callers use. If you're using an archaic meaning of a word, your callers will be confused...and think your business is archaic, too.

Changes in Validity

Words have official meanings, as dictated by style guides (like the Associate Press) and dictionaries. But they also have colloquial meanings. Which brings us to...Hopefully. For years, people used "hopefully" in the wrong way. Colloquially, when people were talking casually, it was perfectly acceptable at the beginning of the sentence. Officially, this was a major error. Using a word incorrectly matters. If a public relations firm, for example, used "Hopefully," at the beginning of a sentence, journalists might scoff at this improper usage. 

As a business, improper word choice makes you look foolish and your customers feel less than confident in your other business practices, so take care to double check (or work with a professional script writer.)

Free Download:  Guide to Effective Scriptwriting for Message On Hold and Telephony


Tags: resources, message on hold, marketing