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According to the AP, Don Mattingly won’t be the Dodgers hitting coach this season, due to family concerns. Instead, he’ll be a special assistant of some sort. Mattingly’s publicist released this statement to announce the change:

“Donnie is prioritizing his family first,” his agent, Ray Schulte, wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “The Dodgers have been very supportive, creating a position so Don can still make a contribution to the team throughout the year!”

Now, I’m no publicist. But I’ve worked in journalism and I’ve worked in communications and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that, when drafting a statement about a client’s family problems and subsequent role reduction, you probably want to steer clear of exclamation marks. An exclamation mark suggests this is a positive development. But let’s be real. Mattingly’s new position is a step back, not a step up. And his family problems, whatever they are, should hardly be cause for celebration.

Don, I wouldn’t fire your publicist over one lousy bit of punctuation. But I’d tell him to be more careful?

4 Responses to “The inappropriate exclamation mark”

  1. Exclamation points are great!

    They’re free! And they make it seem like you’re excited!

    But don’t overuse them!!!! One is enough!

  2. Sarah Green says:

    See, Coley, clearly you have not read Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home, by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe. Because while you wouldn’t want such an exclamation mark in a press release, you would want one in an email. As the authors explain:

    “If you don’t consciously insert tone into an email, a kind of universal default tone won’t automatically be conveyed. Instead, the message written without regard to tone becomes a blank screen onto which the reader projects his own fears, prejudices and anxieties…The exclamation point is a lazy but effective way to combat email’s essential lack of tone. ‘I’ll see you at the conference’ is a simple statement of fact. ‘I’ll see you at the conference!’ lets your fellow conferee know that you’re excited and pleased about the event…Sure, the better your word choice the less need you will have for this form of shorthand. But until we find more time in the day—and until email begins to convey affect—we will continue to sprinkle exclamation points liberally throughout our emails.”

    The problem is, once the AP reports the quote as is, the need for the exclamation point has evaporated…and just makes the publicist look stupid.

  3. Don Mattingly sucks!!!

  4. Paul Moro says:

    Thanks, Doug. Good talkin’ to ya.

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