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Posts Tagged ‘corporate clients’

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“No better friend, no greater adversary…”

Expertise..acquiring it fast and cheap. As we used to say at ImageMatrix: “It CAN be Done!”

As famed guitarist and alcoholic Joe Walsh once said, I can’t complain but sometimes I still do. From time to time you may detect a note (or perhaps a symphony) of cynicism in my tone but, truth be told, there are parts of my job I truly love.

This will sound lame, but my favorite part is learning new things. (Note: warning the reader that something will sound lame does not make it less lame.) By this I mean new businesses, new fields, new products and so on. I have spent a few really productive years in an agency environment, both full time and as a freelancer. There I was exposed to a barrage of new clients in various fields, from shooting sports to military research to graphic arts to public radio.

Believe me, after a solid decade plus in healthcare communications, it was a definite paradigm shift (corporate douche-speak? Mike, you promised!) Sorry. Anyway, I loved the challenge of digging into the materials, interviewing the client, learning about their company, their competition and their industry at large.  And I loved being the proverbial fresh pair of eyes in the room. I guess the biggest lesson I learned was…how to learn. (Tonight on a very special Lively Exchange, Mike learns how to learn.)

All of these tender life lessons came in handy yesterday, when I had to dig into yet another field I knew nothing about (and cannot really discuss.) My mission was to turn 5,000 words into 5,000 different words, with another 2,500 words added for sheer volume.  I’d have to check the AP style guide, but I’m pretty sure that’s “a butt-load.” It promised to be a steep climb, but I was really looking forward to it precisely because the topic was so new. I was exhausted by the end of the day but, as they say, it was a good kind of tired.

How about you, my fellow ink-stained wretches? What’s your favorite part of the job?

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Previously on Battlestar Galactica, we learned that the corporate newsletter is dreamed up by a marketing or merchandising manager, and then immediately handed off to an assistant for execution, and that’s where it all starts to fall apart.

I realize now that this must have seemed pretty ironic, given my self-righteous grandstanding on Administrative Professionals Day. Not really, because it’s not her fault. And, no matter how much her boss “empowers” her when he dumps hands it off to her, it’s beyond her control:

  • This newsletter is only one of her eleventy-billion responsibilities.
  • She is expected to not only dig up stories on her own, but also channel stories from various other managers and directors she works with. Unfortunately,
  • She has no authority to prod those folks when they don’t contribute, and
  • She has no authority to edit their contributions.

Which brings us to one of the prime reasons corporate newsletters suck: too many cooks…or, more accurately, too many cooks and no executive chef. When you have six different people writing the newsletter, you invariably get:

  • Six different degrees of writing skill
  • Six different degrees of enthusiasm, and
  • Six different definitions of “humor.” (My personal fave!)

In the corporate world, anything cobbled together by six people means that responsibility for the thing is so diffuse that it will eventually die of neglect. So what’s the solution? That’s where the professional copywriter comes in. And it’s the topic of our stirring conclusion, coming Monday!

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The thing about corporate newsletters is that most of them suck.

Dude, don’t hold back. Give it to us straight!

Don’t worry; this statement will offend precisely nobody. Why? Because nobody writes the corporate newsletter. They only contribute to it, and obviously their part is wicked good. Somebody else, they’re not sure who, “puts it together.” And then, somehow, it ends up on the company’s intranet...where yes, they admit, it does suck.

Corporate newsletters can be valuable tools…when they are about something, and add value to the reader. Family Bowling Night, the Red Cross Blood Drive, and July Birthdays don’t count. I’m talking about useful stuff like:

  • Information on new products
  • New sales tools and collateral
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Success stories with lessons attached, i.e. Best Practices

The corporate newsletter is a great way to present a consistent message to a sales force that is spread out over a vast area like, I don’t know, North America. And it’s particularly valuable when it lives on the company’s intranet, where information doesn’t have to compete with public relations or confidentiality concerns.

The problem is that the idea of a newsletter is dreamed up by an internal marketing, merchandising or promotions manager…and then immediately passed off to some assistant for execution. It goes downhill from there, as you will read in our next thrilling installment!

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