"Up is always good, right?"

11 January 2008

The big problem with marketingspeak is that, pretty soon, even the people using it forget what the words were meant to mean. People just slot them together like Lego in the vain hope that it gives the prospective consumer a warm feeling. Or maybe utter confusion is an effective sales target.

And it means you end up with crackers like this press-release headline: "MEN Micro Inc. Extends FPGA-based Universal Submodule Concept to Include XMC and Conduction-cooled PMC Formats for Increased Time-to-market"

Yes, use our product and slow your project down to a crawl. I have visions of the person signing this one off saying: "I don't want 'reduced' in the headline, it's not a happy word..."

4 Comments

Chris, the bad news is it's amazing how much bad writing exists today (and it's probably getting worse in the age of blogging and twitter and IMing); the good news is that good writers will be employable forever.
Happy New Year!
BF

Chris, every once in a while you get sick of fighting with your client and write the shitty headline they want just so you can say 'I told you so' when it doesn't work. I'm sure the story behind the headline falls along those lines. Or it was written by a non native English speaker.

Chris, we appreciate your honest feedback. Sometimes it's tough to effectively communicate all these technical terms (and their benefits-which is really what the reader really wants to know!) in a short, attention-getting headline. We're taking your comments to heart, since the editorial community is really PR's first audience, so when you guys give feedback, we need to listen. Thanks again!

Brian, Happy New Year to you and all.

I often wonder whether writing is getting worse or just that it's now easier to be exposed to more bad writing than good simply because Google makes it all so available. In some ways the Internet is good for writing because it more or less forces people to do it where they didn't have to do it in the past. The really crap ones might just stick to video diaries nobody has to watch.

Sherilynne,

I'd say at least half of the time that something goes badly off the rails that has a PR involvement, I can trace it back to something that the client insisted on, not what the PR introduced by themselves. Half may be an underestimate.

Beth,

I picked this one out because it kind of leapt out at me while doing a quick trawl through the RSS feeds from the newswires. I understand the problem of dealing with technical terms. However, in this case, we're not dealing with a technical term just a piece of marketing jargon that the industry alighted on about 15 years ago. Time-to-market as a phrase has no need to exist - there are many better ways to phrase the idea in the first place. People use it in presentations when all they are doing is filling up dead air.

The headline in the MEN release really drove that home: when it becomes difficult to work out whether high time-to-market is good or bad, it really is time to retire that phrase (although I contend it should have been smothered at birth).

Don't even get me started on functionality.