What Happens When PR/Marketing Professionals Use ‘Authentic Frontier Gibberish’

NaNoWriMo: the home front

The days of filling a Blue Book with gibberish are behind us.

Three months ago I came to the ugly conclusion that I am just old enough that some of my pop culture references are dated and that not everyone can quote or recognize lines from Blazing Saddles.

Not to mention that a couple of comments about watching movies at the drive-in made people scrunch up their faces at me. But they missed out on some good times that we’ll talk about in a different post because now I want to talk about some of the crap our professional brethren are putting out there.

I am highly educated and have an above average vocabulary and reading comprehension skills but some of the releases, white papers and assorted marketing materials that I have read lately are unintelligible.

They are the PR/Marketing equivalent of ‘authentic frontier gibberish.’

Why Is It Important?

If our job is to communicate, educate and or sway opinion then the most important thing we can do is produce content that is easy to understand. The point is to break complex topics down into something that people can follow.

The point is to make it easy to understand what it is, why it is important and why people should feel/do/act about it.

Sometimes it is a challenge to make it happen because our personal understanding of the topic isn’t as strong as it could be. I know how that goes. I know how deadlines and limited resources can push us to produce content at breakneck speed but ultimately that is the kind of thing that bites us in the butt.

Still that doesn’t bother me as much as the material that reads like someone has spent sixteen hours scouring their thesaurus for the most complex words they could find. Reporters are rarely if ever impressed by releases that require a dictionary to understand.

Simple Is Impressive

Simple is impressive.

When you can take that complex topic and turn it into something that doesn’t read like ‘Authentic Frontier Gibberish’ the net result is almost always good.

Granted it is important to remember who you are writing for and to adjust your piece accordingly. Sometimes you have a group of industry professionals that might provide you with the opportunity to include more sophisticated terminology but I would caution you to be careful how often and how aggressively you follow that approach.

There is value in producing content that can be understood and appreciated by a broader group.

What do you think?

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  1. Pingback: The Conflict Between Attorneys & Bloggers - Joshua Wilner

  2. ExtremelyAvg August 9, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Okay, I’m really confused by the dual comment stuff. Where am I supposed to leave comments when I’m on your site?

  3. Soulati | Hybrid PR August 5, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Hmm, I get to choose which profile image I like better or which commenting system is my fave? I choose Livefyre b/c my latest blog post appears and I’m familiar with it. I owe you a call.
    You’re so spot on I could kiss you…well, only if you’re not wearing the cowboy hat or the boots or if you shave…oh, heck. Never mind, I’m not going to kiss you evah.
    Too much caffeine? Prolly.
    You’re so spot on, oh yeah, I said that already…and you’re right. I hope the Google new webmaster guidelines are going to fix the junk a bit. I wonder if people are issuing junk b/c they think it drives traffic and link building? Something Google is now frowning on for the ever-popular online news release.
    Maybe there’s a school that you, Adam | Customer Experience and me have never attended? It’s called the “Best Junk-Writing School?” Gotta be, elsewise, how do people know how to right that bad.
    There, I think I messed up about 5 things up there just to sound really stupid. Worked, didn’t it?

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes August 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Soulati | Hybrid PR Adam | Customer Experience I’d like to attend and or teach the Best Junk Writing school.
      It could be fun trying to intentionally write poorly, not to say that I have never done it because darn it, BDERWGFVRGW I have.
      Just ask Gabby Johnson.

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