Maybe I’m spoiled

1 Feb

Because the past several years have afforded me cool opportunities to write fun copy for various folks, I’ve been relatively spoiled. I expect cool web sites and companies to have engaging writing and voices reflective of their personalities.    I gravitate to the people whose voices are transparent online.

I’m turned off when I read marketing prose that probably went through several levels of approval only to make it live and sound completely fabricated.  Doesn’t everyone?

Sadly, no.  I’ve been lucky enough to be ahead of (or on) the curve when it comes to the clients I’ve worked with over the years — even traditional mature (offline) businesses have felt more comfortable introducing brevity into their corporate jargon, and I’ve been responsible for facilitating that necessary exploration.

Some are trying but don’t really get it — for example, why do companies still insist on putting out press releases under the guise of a blog?  When I read a blog, I don’t want to see:

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — After more than two years of discussion, Company X today is pleased to announce its partnership with Company Y.   Together, they have acquired several sub-companies that can be leveraged in increasingly successful ways to meet the demands of the current economy.”

I want to see:

“We’re partnering with Company Y so we don’t have to lay off thousands of people.  We’ll be stronger together than we will be as competitors.”

That’s not to say I don’t think traditional, corporate writing has a place.  Even on the web, it does.  I’m just arguing the point that as attention spans drop and transparency rises, more people want the meat and potatoes only.  They see the marketing prose and the strategic language, and they don’t necessarily find it MORE credible or authoritative than straight talk.  They especially don’t want to be pulled in by brilliant designs and friendly user experiences only to be overwhelmed by language that’s murkier than tax-form instructions.  So, redefining corporate writing for the web is the challenge.

Personally,  I adore companies and brands whose sites speak to me and are clearly reflective of their own culture.  So, when I see heavily crafted prose that feels heavier than necessary, I almost immediately bolt.  I love helping other people find that balance between information dissemination and personality toward keeping their readers from bolting, too.

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