Tag Archive for writing

What’s in a name, love?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.”

In the week a Yorkshire based care home made headlines by being accused of “demeaning” its residents by calling them colloquial terms such as “love” or “darling”, I am reminded of the above quote from Romeo and Juliet which made me wonder – how much power is held in a name, and do we need to be mindful of this?

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) clearly believe names have the propensity to cause offence as they marked down the Brackenley residential home in a report, partly because they felt the terms staff used to address people with learning disabilities in their care could potentially be construed as “patronising”.

Stephanie Kirkman Meikle, chief executive of Harrogate Skills 4 Living, which runs Brackenley, expressed surprise by this finding and insisted they would not ban staff using these affectionate terms.

The Yorkshire dialect can often be a culture shock for people!

The Yorkshire dialect can often be a culture shock for people!

“Some residents have their own terms of endearment that they asked to be called. One likes to be known as Parsnip because that’s what she is known as in her family, so that’s what we call her,” she said.

“We always discuss these things with residents and it is in their care plans. We would never call someone something they don’t want.”

This incident highlights how language, even in its most innocent form, can potentially impact on how organisations are perceived and can divide opinion.

An online poll on itv.com found 89.9% of people who voted agreed with the care home and did not find the terms “love”, “darling” and “sweetie” demeaning. The majority of online news outlets also reported in favour of the care home and this incident was largely seen as another example of political correctness gone mad.

Dr Barrie M Rhodes, a linguist and member of the Yorkshire Dialect Society, told The Telegraph: “The use of the word love is part of our heritage – God knows how many centuries it has been going on but a very long time. Why anybody in an inspectorate would bother to get their hackles up about anything like that I’ve no idea.”

As this is not the first time Yorkshire dialect has come under attack, it’s understandable that Dr Barrie was keen to defend his local tongue. Last April, a similar furore was caused when Tour de France guides in Yorkshire were banned from using certain greetings during their day-to-day role. Again, “love” and “darling” arose as possibly offensive terms. At the time, Sir Michael Parkinson, born in South Yorkshire, labelled the decision “daft” and went as far as to say the word “love” is what “Yorkshire is all about”.

I have recently relocated to North Yorkshire from London to join Acceleris and although there is the initial culture shock of being surrounded by a different accent than I’m accustomed to, I am quite endeared with the local terms up North. This, of course, could be attributed to the novelty factor involved – down in ‘Sarf’ London, I was regularly referred to as “mate” but rarely heard “love”. In both cases, I was aware that these throwaway terms hurled at me were not intended to cause upset.

It seems likely that problems with language occur when names are deliberately intended to patronise. David Cameron’s infamous “calm down, dear” gaffe is a lesson in how words take on a certain meaning depending on the situation and tone they’re expressed in. The most sensible approach to interacting with others is to use common sense. David Cameron could have avoided this PR blunder by making a better judgement call on what would be deemed acceptable in those circumstances.

At Writers Inc. we understand how crucial it is to get your language right. We are content and editorial specialists who understand how to convey your message in the best light.
Above all, it appears reasonable to try to always consider the context in which you’re speaking and, failing that, remember that words are subjective, love.

Rewriting the book on agency editorial services

The Royal Alfred Seafarers' Society Anniversary Book, Home From Sea

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society Anniversary Book, Home From Sea

It’s not every day you get to shake hands with a senior member of the Royal Family, but Louise, Ellie and I got to do just that, when we met HRH The Princess Royal at a client event.

This was a very proud moment for all at Acceleris, for a number of reasons:

1)      Princess Anne is one of the busiest royals, with a wide range of public roles. She supports or is Patron of 327 organisations (only The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales represent more). In 2014, she carried out nearly 530 engagements in the UK and overseas. She had four appointments that day alone, and reportedly shakes 300 hands a week – that’s 15,600 a year!

2)      She is Patron of maritime charity The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, a long-standing Acceleris client, which this year celebrated its 150th anniversary of caring for former seafarers and their dependants. The Princess attended the anniversary event in July as the charity’s VIP guest and to present it with a new Royal Charter.

3)      She was the first to receive a copy of the Society’s 150th anniversary book Home From Sea – the first book to be produced by Acceleris!

Louise meets HRH

Acceleris’ Managing Director, Louise Vaughan, meets Princess Anne

I was also lucky enough to meet HRH!

I was also lucky enough to meet HRH!

Home From Sea charts the Royal Alfred’s history from its foundation as “a hospital for worn-out and disabled merchant seamen” in 1865, to the specialist care home and housing in Surrey that it is today. The brief was specific – to produce an engaging and informative record of the organisation that should be “picture heavy, wording light and suitable for a coffee table”.

Writers Inc., Acceleris’ editorial project division, really showed its mettle during what was a rewarding but often challenging task.

Strong client relationships really bolster successful projects. As this was to be a record of its first 150 years, the Royal Alfred understandably placed a lot of emphasis on getting this project right and set up a special ‘book committee’ of trustees and staff to work with us, each with their own valuable skill sets and insight into the Society.

Then: an early meeting with the book committee

Then: an early meeting with the book committee

Now: the book committee with the finished article!

Now: the book committee with the finished article!

After initial group meetings, the production process took 18 months. Efficient management was vital, covering:

  • Editorial services – working alongside co-author John Allan, a maritime historian, we wrote several chapters and edited and proofread the entire book.
  • Graphic design – it was a pleasure to partner with Rebus Design on the publication’s design work. They are an efficient, professional and creative team who had worked with us on Royal Alfred previously on its Annual Report and advertising.
  • Print – local suppliers Harrogate Printing did a sterling job, offering advice and support at every turn and producing a top-class product, complete with hardback, gold leaf and immaculate finishing throughout.
  • Research – in addition to our own insight and information built up over seven years of working with the charity, we delved into the charity’s archive, a veritable treasure trove of old photographs, poetry, cartoons, documents, press cuttings and personal journals and recollections from key personnel going back decades.

On 26 May, our book went to print, and on 3 July, the first copy was placed into the hands of Princess Anne.

Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt MBE, Chief Executive of the Society, said: “I am immensely pleased and proud of the book, which met and surpassed our expectations. Since the launch event we have had some very good feedback from residents, relatives, staff, partner organisations and other external sources. No one could fail to like it and be impressed. We have a book of which we can be justifiably proud and a fitting tribute to the Royal Alfred.”

Hear more from Brian here:

Now we look to the future and new similar opportunities. As technology evolves and shapes the way we consume content, it is heartening to confirm that the print publication still has its place and is often the most appropriate communications tool for some organisations and their audiences. The Royal Alfred now has an attractive, visual record of its first 150 years and, with this client’s support, we look forward to building on this new specialism for the agency.

For more information on this or other projects, please contact Charley Oakes on 0845 4567251 or email charleyo@acceleris-mc.com