27 May 2014
Disclaimer: I’m not actually listing 86 reasons for anything in this article. I am, however, going to talk about a bizarrely niche area of psychological study: what makes headlines tick. A quick glance at a search engine result for… well, practically anything at all reveals that the vast majority of headlines have numbers in them.
From firsthand experience, I can say that any time I’m generating topics for clients, I’m always thinking of how to come up with 3 More Reasons Why Catchy Titles Are Essential or 4 Ways to Hook Readers with Headlines. That’s what everyone wants, because we’re all told that’s what really sells. Are formulaic headlines really that essential to your blog posts’ success?
06 May 2014
The new, more globalized international economy means more and more processes are outsourced and automated. We’re growing increasingly accustomed to Bangalore-based telephone customer service agents and cheaply made garments manufactured in foreign factories with dubious health and safety standards. With globalization also comes mobilization; larger and larger varieties of services are available online from desktop computer or mobile devices. These shifts toward a more technologically empowered service sector are often exciting, but some of us in the writing and editing fields are dismayed at and distrustful of the growing prevalence of computer-generated copy and automated editing systems.
22 Apr 2014
Pavlov was definitely onto something. That guy knew exactly how to build excitement and keep his audience waiting at the edge of their seats—or the end of a leash, as the case may be—for his next performance. Granted, his performance was delivering dog treats, so not nearly as entertaining as a well-written blog post but the same rules apply: consistency of any action builds anticipation, for readers of your blog as well as man’s best friend. This is why it’s so important to establish a consistent posting schedule.
This past Friday, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the first TEDx event held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. One of my favorite speakers at the event was Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise, an award-winning organization that has built more than 150 schools across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
While Braun has many great things to say (“You change your words to change your worth” being one of them), my favorite part of his talk was about being purpose-driven. Instead of calling Pencils of Promise a nonprofit organization, he instead calls it a “for-purpose” organization. After explaining this term he’s coined (he doesn’t do charity work; he solves problems), he applied it to nonprofits and businesses alike.
08 Apr 2014
Every once in a while we get a few orders from agency clients. These agencies serve as intermediaries, taking a cut for finding clients and then sending them our way with prefilled forms that include instructions on what the client wants. It’s a great win-win, as we get to flex our brains by writing about myriad topics which we otherwise might not have encountered, the agency gets its share of the revenue, and the client gets top-notch content. But there’s one issue I keep bumping into that’s resulted in my being one the phone with the agency a few times: a demand to stick within a single narrative voice throughout an entire document that’s going to be used for marketing purposes.
Ah, April Fools’ Day. The day those of us with trickster co-workers have to be on guard from the moment we grab our morning coffee until the time we clock out and go home. There’s one in every office: the trickster who gets a rise out of crossing office phone lines, changing your computer’s system language, or using the copier as a weapon of sweet workplace revenge (what, you didn’t think of those?). No one wants to look foolish, especially in the workplace.
I serve on the media advisory committee for a local magnet school, Northwest Career and Technical Academy. This morning the school hosted a mock interview session, where local members of the media (including related fields like marketing and public relations) dedicated a few hours to pretending to interview students for a job or internship. We then had to grade the students on markers such as attire, eye contact, responses to questions, résumé/portfolio, etc.
A couple years ago, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) made the largest discovery in the field that had been seen in over 40 years. Physicists proved the existence of the Higgs boson particle—more commonly called the God particle—that pretty much explains the entire universe. Exciting, right? Something this huge, you’d think that #godparticle would have been the biggest Twitter trend since #slicedbread. Instead, the Twittersphere swarmed with complaints over the font used by the CERN folk in their live webcast presentation: the dreaded Comic Sans.
In most cases, solving the mysteries of the known universe shouldn’t pale in comparison to which font you choose for your website or project, but the level of vitriol over Comic Sans in particular shows that isn’t always the case. What makes typography such a big deal, anyway?
When I mention Dave’s Killer Bread, few people know what company I’m talking about, but those who do respond with an almost cult-like affection. If you’re not familiar with it, Dave’s Killer Bread is the reincarnation of a decades-old family bakery out of Portland that has seen a meteoric rise in profits, fame and opportunity, mostly thanks to the introduction of Dave Dahl.