The headlines screamed out with an inexplicable but accurate quote from a major party candidate for governor of Georgia. Democrat Stacey Abrams told a crowd of supporters that Georgia was “The worst state in the country to live.” The remark left headline readers wondering why on earth Abrams would denigrate the state she wants to govern.

Well, what the headlines didn’t relate was that Abrams immediately followed up her remark with contextual examples of quality of life and social issues that plague Georgia more than most states. She was trying to deliver a key message that, in her opinion, Georgia’s state government was failing its citizens in a number of areas.

Unfortunately for Abrams, the damage was done. Her Republican opponent, incumbent Governor Brian Kemp, jumped all over the headline “worst state” remark and will likely continue to do so until the November election.

View Abram’s remark below.

Responding to criticism, Abrams later said, “My language may have been inartful.” More importantly, it drowned out her key message.

Don’t let this happen to you! During a media interview, crisis news briefing, or a presentation, choose your words carefully. You may have a powerful message to deliver. But an “inartful” phrase can be so distracting that your message doesn’t get through. Your sloppy words may not make headlines but they won’t win over your audience either.