Find out about Robert Taylor Communications in the Media...Media details
The model for most business writing is the sort of authoritative, readable journalism found in magazines such as The Economist or papers such as the Financial Times. This means that the default tense is the present (rather than the past, as in most fiction).
To keep things feeling immediate and fresh, we often use the present tense even when the past might be more logical. For example, when reporting the results of a survey conducted three months ago, we would say, “Our survey shows that…” – because it still does show whatever the point is, even though the survey was taken in the past. This is because its results are still current. If it superseded a previous survey, then the results of that previous survey would be reported in the past tense, because they are no longer valid. Of course, if we want to imply that they are still valid then we use the present tense.
The same applies to reported speech, especially from interviews. Even though the interview may have been conducted two weeks ago, we still use the present tense, because it still reflects the views of the speaker, as in the example below.
Robert Taylor says, “Most PR companies don’t pay enough attention to the quality of their writing.”
See also “Reporting speech without quoting” under speech.