Thursday, June 08, 2006

And Don't Ever Use the Phrase 'Low Hanging Fruit' Again Either

This morning, I got an indoctrination in corporate editorial at a training session on writing "Quality Content" for marketing material. The basic idea was to always lead with what the audience wants most, rather than what the writer wants to trumpet.

Use the language of the readers, rather the jargon of the company. Protect trademarks by avoiding abbreviations. Ideally, you write in a way that is easily translatable into a myriad of languages, removing idioms like "bottom line" or "level the playing field" that might make no sense in Korean, Polish, or Flemish. These all seem obvious, but it's harder to do than it sounds without making the copy deadly dull.

We are to never use words that make the company look "smug." Don't randomly capitalize (apparently, the corporate editors spend a huge amount of time replacing unnecessary Capital Letters). Eliminate the word "leverage," as in "leverage your iPod investment by also using it to back up your computer," because it has a specific financial definition involving anti-trust issues, and Legal has asked everyone to avoid the word completely.

The instructor (SME, or subject matter expert, if we're going to get all jargony) listed more hackneyed phrases to dodge. My unfavorite? I refuse to tolerate the popular business phrase "low hanging fruit" any more. As in, "Let's go for the low hanging fruit and see what revenue we can make with minimal work." It's an annoying cliche and just makes me hungry.

3 comments:

Mary P. said...

Just to prove that my mind frequents gutters rather more often than it should, I confess that when I read the title, having no idea it was a bit of business slang, I was imagining a completely different kind of...hanging fruit. Snort.

YF said...

Yah, IT seeMS to ME that MaNY More PeopLE CouLd Use claSSEs liKe thAt. But I'm juSt TestIng The h20 Here.

Lady M said...

Mary P - I hadn't thought of that before, but now I may be snickering quietly whenever a solemn engineering team uses the phrase.

yf - hAHa!