Category Archives: Communications

“Do the Little Things”: Lessons from Big Papi

This week, our beloved Boston Red Sox won their third World Series championship in a decade, and their first at Fenway Park since 1918. Leading the charge was veteran slugger David Ortiz — a/k/a Big Papi.

Papi owns his game. He strides to the plate like Godzilla. He stares down every pitcher with a fierce confidence that comes from knowing that odds are, he can hit anything thrown his way. So what if he struck out his last time at bat? Minutes later he was back on the field, celebrating with younger players he’s inspired. Papi’s message: Don’t give up. Give it your best. Believe, no matter what.

One quote from Papi in Boston.com really hit home:

“We have a lot of players with heart,” Ortiz said. “We probably don’t have the talent we had in ’07 and ’04, but we have guys that are capable, stay focused, and do the little things. And when you win with that, it’s special.”

That got me thinking about being a freelance writer in a big, competitive market such as Boston.

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“Hundreds of Years of Combined Experience!” (And Other Worry-Free Writing Peeves)

Just heard one of my least favorite marketing expressions on the radio.

An ad for an elder law practice touted the firm’s “hundreds of years of combined experience.” Not an egregious offense, but so overused, the meaning is lost.

Any listener who wasn’t born yesterday knows better. This description doesn’t mean the practice was founded by the partners’ forbearers in the Middle Ages, nor are any of the resident attorneys 500-year-old vampires (at least I hope not).

What it literally means is if you add up all the ages of the staff, you get a number in the hundreds. Which could be said for most businesses with more than four staff out of college.

What “hundreds of years…” wants to convey is, “We have years of experience in this field and working in our community.” Or deeper, “We understand your needs, as seniors and the people who love them.” And on a practical level, “We have the knowledge and expertise to assist you and your family with retirement, extended care, and estate planning needs.”

Wouldn’t it be better to just say that? Other examples of language infractions that have irked me of late… Continue reading

Think Before You Send : Why Words Still Matter

Go away!

Two words that leave no doubt about their intended meaning. The stuff of NO TRESPASSING signs and text-message breakups. Words that get to the point and hit their target. Words that, depending on the context, can hurt.

A colleague who runs a web design and marketing business recently sent an email newsletter announcing some new service offerings. Like all conscientious email marketers, she put an opt-out link at the end of her email telling recipients how to unsubscribe. One reader who wanted to opt out took it a step further, emailing her to “Go away!”

While most of her reader feedback was positive, this one message bothered her.

I know how she feels: While praise about our work is always appreciated, negative comments seem to hit harder and reverberate longer. Either the “Go away!” writer didn’t think a real human being would read his or her email…or he or she just didn’t care. But would they say that to my colleague’s face? I like to think not.

Email, texting, and social media communications let us exchange information with just a couple clicks. OMG! LOL! We write in text message shorthand. A new generation of writers doesn’t always know the difference between formal English and Internet slang. But these immediate, concise forms of communication have a downside. Continue reading