In the mid-to-latter part of the 1980s, I lived in the Seattle area and worked in the Emerald City.
As it turns out, a few months before my wife and I moved to the region, software company Microsoft decided to move its headquarters from Bellevue, Washington to 29 acres in Redmond, a neighboring city.
To be honest, I had never heard of Redmond previously, and for all I knew, it could have been 300 miles away from Seattle, instead of merely a short drive away across Lake Washington.
Regardless, someone or someones at Microsoft decided that it would not only move its HQ to Redmond, but it would embrace the reality that it was doing so.
Hence, since it opened its Redmond HQ in February 1986, every document published by Microsoft since then has listed Redmond as the city where it is based.
The Point of this Column
In my more than 35 years as a marketing and communications professional (and now as a full-time journalist for the past 6+ months), I am baffled at the number of times I have run across companies that are apparently embarrassed by the location of their organization.
And so, when they distribute news releases about their firms ...
... Rather than truthfully put Redmond, Wash. in their press release datelines, they insert the name Seattle instead.
What. The. Hell?!?!?!
Unfortunately, I have seen similar practices while on the job at Silicon Slopes from Utah-based organizations who publish news releases with Salt Lake City in their datelines instead of
- Alpine or
- Centerville or
- Murray or
- Sandy or
- West Jordan
- or, or, or.
Why? I truthfully do not know nor understand.
One of the Rules of Journalism that was drilled into my head many moons ago was
Accuracy. Accuracy. Accuracy.
By extension, a corollary for us PR students was
Tell the truth. Always.
Here's why this matters.
If, as a journalist, I discover that a company's headquarters are actually based in Sandy, Utah and NOT in Salt Lake City (which happened not too long ago), I find myself thinking ...
"Huh?!?! Why did they lie about that? I wonder if they're lying about anything else?"
Crazy, right? Except it's not.
By this point in this column some of you may be thinking, "Poppa P has gone off the deep end. No one really cares about stuff like that. Besides, no one outside of the Wasatch Front has ever heard of Farmington, Utah before, so we'll just use Salt Lake City in our press release datelines."
And that's fine. You do what you want to do.
But if I discover that your company is actually HQ'd in American Fork and NOT SLC, I promise you I'm gonna ask myself,
"What else are they fibbing about?"
Silly? No, it's not.
The Yin/Yang Relationship Between Journalists, Those They Report On, and the Public
Journalists have this very interesting Push-Pull Relationship with the companies, organizations, and people they report about and on, and that includes us here at Silicon Slopes.
We are looking for stories that we believe will best serve our audiences, and at Silicon Slopes that means everyone interested in the business community of the entire "State of Silicon Slopes:"
- From Tremonton to Mesquite, and
- From Wendover to Vernal, and
- Across every single industry impacted or influenced by technology (which is every industry), and
- By the people and organizations that help drive and shape the economy of Utah.
And because Silicon Slopes is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit created specifically to support and advance the technology and startup ecosystem of Utah, you will find that it will be very rare that we go negative in our reporting. That's just not who we are or what we're about (unlike some news organizations), which is also fine.
That doesn't mean we won't dive deep into a story to provide an analysis or perspective as to the Who, What, When, Where, Why, or How of a story.
We do that fairly regularly because we believe it's a big part of how we serve this community.
All of that being true, I come back to this:
Tell. The. Truth. Always.
And yes, that includes something as insignificant as the city name you include in the datelines of your news releases – even if your headquarters is actually in Sandy or Marriott-Slaterville, Utah.
If this makes you uncomfortable, then insert a phrase in your announcement that said city is a suburb of Salt Lake City or is in the SLC metropolitan area.
No one will look down on you or your organization because they've never heard of your city before.
In fact, chances are they'll appreciate your honesty.
And your integrity.
Besides ... it didn't hurt Microsoft, right?!?!
For the record, none of the organizations reported on this week are guilty of falsely using the wrong city name in their press releases for the location of their company.