Archive for June, 2007

Babble Ain’t Just for Us Techno-Babblers No More

June 20, 2007

Jargon in promotional communications is bad enough. But bloated, almost nonsensical babble can be even worse. Especially when it’s long and protracted…what you might call”Ramble-Babble.”

Eric Webber (Webber/McJ Communications (Austin, TX) recently railed on some poignant examples of abuse in his Advertising Age column. (June 4, 2007). Quoted from Hastings, a company that sells books, music and movies: “(our goal is to) satisfy our customers’ desires for personal entertainment and information through total customer satisfaction.” Wow.

From another communications company: “We are developing sustainable communications programs that actually revolve around what we have learned, through systems thinking, are in the customer’s best interests.”

Laudable.

IT’S LAME

Thanks to Jessica Wayland (PR Pro from the Detroit Economic Club) for several suggestions, including:

“Innovative”

How sweet the sound. Find it used on 188 million web pages.

It’s in the running for our “most overused adjective” award (to be bestowed soon). The question is raised: if everything offered in the business world is innovative, what’s the opposite and when should it be used? “Conventional” often describes the dreaded Brand X when comparisons are made to the competition.

I have an answer. When presenting both your standard and the really-cool-revved-up version of your product, refer to them this way: “To meet your needs, you can choose our innovative Maverick XT or settle for our uninspired Mainstay Model A.”

IT’S GAME

“Rudder”

 

A noun: even better as a verb. When you’re talking about direction.

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How to Interview a Potential PR / Marketing Hire

June 4, 2007

 

 

Interviewing job applicants came up in discussion last week amongst peers. Here’s my short list:

1. Shut up.

Don’t jump in and fill in the pauses. Let them talk. Don’t spend 35 minutes of a 45-minute interview telling the candidate about your company. Amazing what you’ll find out when there are a few moments of silence. Remember, you’re looking to hire a communications professional who has to know how to communicate.

2. Look for a confluence of values

The resume matters only if the candidate has integrity, a strong work ethic, and both a desire and a need to succeed. Plus whatever other personality characteristics are important to you.

HR people, and Tony Mikes of Second Wind, will tell you this.

3. Give the candidate a writing test.

4. Go ahead…ask the “best” and “worst” questions.

Might as well stir things up. Try “What’s the most embarrassing moment in your career.” A candid colleague…a very successful PR VP…told me that early on she was pitching a business story when the editor asked her if the company in question was private or publically owned, and she didn’t know. End of conversation.

It’s all about lessons learned.

 

5. Read lots of other advice from HR veterans. Such as:

5 Ways to learn the most about a job candidate

 

Now back to our regularly-scheduled feature:

IT’S GAME

“Evergreen”

This can be a refreshing term when used in a business communications context. As in: “keep your website evergreen by frequently supplying new data on…”

Evergreeen

IT’S LAME

The prepositional phrase: “In today’s competitive business world…”

Perhaps the ultimate throw-away. If you’re in business, can you think of a set of words that could illicit more of a sarcastic “Duh!” from the reader. What’s worse, this phrase is often followed by the revelation that “you need to be more competitive” or something close.

 

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