To the point

March 12, 2015 -  By

palmieriMaybe it’s the reporter in me, but I always prefer plain language over complicated descriptions. In journalism school, they teach you to treat euphemisms like clichés—“avoid them like the plague” is the old joke.

For example, someone doesn’t “pass away.” He or she dies. Workers aren’t “downsized.” They’re fired. The company doesn’t sell a “business solution.” It manufactures software. Euphemisms are dangerous because they distort the message. By trying to be creative or put a positive spin on something, you confuse people. Instead, you should get right to the point.

Because of my preference for directness, I like the new name for the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), which it announced late last month and will begin using in April. I think the choice, the National Association of Landscape Professionals, is a serviceable, straightforward selection.

I’m sure there are critics, especially those who feel their corner of the industry isn’t explicitly listed as part of the name. But I don’t think the public distinguishes “lawn care,” “maintenance,” or “design/build” from one another. Plus, all these specialties do fall under “landscape,” which Webster defines as “to make changes to improve the appearance of (an area of land).” Of course, there are other options, such as “green industry,” but that choice may be confusing, too. “Landscape” is the most practical way to make the point.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked with LM readers who’ve given me a blank stare when I asked if they were PLANET members. “You know, PLANET? It’s the national association of landscape and lawn care professionals?” I’m sure those of you who are members have had to explain PLANET in a similar way.

Hopefully, the name change will ensure the consumer media starts getting it right. There have been many times I’ve cringed upon seeing an industry-related news story citing data from the Professional Landscape Network—which does not exist. It’s the Professional Landcare Network. But who could blame them? “Landcare,” a blend of “landscape” and “lawn care,” isn’t a term anyone uses. The local reporters who got it wrong were probably either confused or just trying not to use a euphemism.

Or how about when someone tells me, “We’re ALCA members,” referencing the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, which hasn’t been around for a decade. It merged with the Professional Lawn Care Association of America in 2005 to form PLANET.

Of course, the new name is about much more than saving me a 10-second explanation or whether every local gardening reporter has committed the association’s name to memory. It’s about whether new business owners will find the resources they need when searching for their industry’s national trade association. It’s about whether the name and logo will resonate with homeowners and property managers when they see them in an email signature. And it’s about whether more than just a few thousand companies in this vast industry will finally recognize, join and participate in their national trade association.

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

1 Comment on "To the point"

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  1. Mike smith says:

    I think it was great move on the name change.
    i have had to explain to fellow landscape companies what planet was also. Have even heard, why is it call that??
    Names of certian organizations sound have a direct mame link to their purpose.