Tamsin Constable

Car-crash jargon

Two-and-a-half years ago, I had a crash. It wrote my car off and left me with whip-lash. I’ve had months of correspondence with my solicitors about compensation. Here’s one of the latest:

Dear Ms Constable

The third party’s accountants have duly returned back to our offices stating that they have now increased to make up on their previous offer. I have returned back to them one final time in an attempt to negotiate an increase upon the same. I will return to you further in due course. (52 words)

Here are my thoughts.

That’s a lot of jargon for such a short letter.
Jargon obscures the message and alienates the reader.
Do the solicitors realise this?
If not, why not?
If they do, why do it?
Do I have any reason to be cynical?
There’s fluff. I don’t need to know that they’ve heard back from the third party’s accountants. Of course they have, that’s what the letter’s about.
Repetition weakens writing. There’s a lot of ‘returning’ going on here.

Here’s my version.

Dear Ms Constable

The third party’s accountants have increased their offer. I have written back one last time to try to negotiate more. When I hear from them, I will let you know. (30 words)

Their evaluation form specifically asks me to comment on their written communications. I think I’ll refer them to this post…

See what Joe ‘Blog’ has got to say about it

I searched for craft books on Amazon for a xmas gift. The new Cath Kidston one, Make, looks delicious. But a quick scroll down revealed three reviews, all of which gave similar negative feedback. The publisher’s error could cost them a fortune. The book isn’t about ‘making’ at all. It’s about ‘decorating’, as several disgruntled customers found out. Perhaps the publishers thought that ‘Make’ was a funkier title, more now, more likely to make the book sell. I wonder whether they gave a moment’s thought to the power of what’s known as Web 2.0.

As well as reviews, there’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Google Reader, FriendFeed, Flickr, RSS feeds (there’s one on this page, the little orange button, so you can read my new posts without having to visit this site), My Space, Yahoo Answers, SlideShare, del.ico.us… Most internet users have probably come across some of these, perhaps even without realising it.

The common threads here are concepts of participating, sharing information, interacting, giving feedback and support, commenting, and generally adding value to discussions, ideas, movements. Relationships first. Sales later, and only then if you’re offering something worth buying. Really worth buying.

Old style marketing is, according to the Social Media Marketing seminar I went to this week, ‘interruption’ marketing. Gone – well, not so effective and really expensive – are the cold-calls, the door-knocks, the unsolicited flyers, paid newspaper and TV ads. The new world is quickly switching on to ‘permission’ marketing: Social Media Marketing.

Business and organisations of all shapes and sizes have yet fully to grasp what SMM can do for them. Pizza Hut has done it, with a page for fans on Facebook. But even a short, simple weekly blog would give the smallest business the opportunity to talk to, and learn from, its clients, slowly eroding the barriers between ‘them’ and ‘us’.

Back to the sumptuous-looking craft book, genuine reviews from Joe Bloggs 1, 2 and 3, with no royalties, no commission, no share-holders to please, was worth its weight in gold. To me, that is. Not to Cath, bless her polkadot cottonies, or to her publishers. Because away I quickly clicked.