Tag Archives: communication

Singular possessive or plural possessive

DSCN5313[grammarlessons]

Do people still diagram sentences?[1] Is writing still important in business?[2] [3] [4] These thoughts came to mind after a colleague asked about a client’s ad copy. She read a sentence to me, and I listened.

“Does that sound correct?” she asked.

“Depends,” I answered. “Is the word singular possessive or plural possessive?”

She showed me the ad copy on her screen. The sentence went something like this:

The insurer provides health care for the company’s and employee’s best interest.

The conversation went on for a bit on the topic of whether or not the client intended that the word “employee’s” be singular possessive. It made sense to us that a company would be singular. But would a company have a single employee? A quick survey of other colleagues revealed that they didn’t know what we were talking about. In fairness to the other colleagues, it was a very busy day at the office and they may have politely feigned ignorance as to return to their tasks.

The challenge of the ad copy provoked other thoughts on the necessity of good writing skills in a business and professional setting. Think before you write. Write well and your thoughts will effectively communicate your message.

NOTES:
[1] JUANA SUMMERS, “A Picture Of Language: The Fading Art Of Diagramming Sentences,” NPR, August 22, 20147:18 AM, accessed July 28, 2016, http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/22/341898975/a-picture-of-language-the-fading-art-of-diagramming-sentences
[2] Carolyn O’Hara, “How to Improve Your Business Writing,” Harvard Business Review, NOVEMBER 20, 2014, accessed July 28, 2016, https://hbr.org/2014/11/how-to-improve-your-business-writing.
[3] Joyce E.A. Russell, “Career Coach: Are writing skills necessary anymore?,” Washington Post, May 22, 2011, accessed July 28, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/career-coach-are-writing-skills-necessary-anymore/2011/05/18/AFJLUF9G_story.html
[4] Susan Adams, “8 Keys To Better Business Writing,” Forbes, JAN 18, 2013 @ 10:08 AM, accessed July 28, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/01/18/8-keys-to-better-business-writing/#402ba4f415de
[BONUS] Annie Holmquist, “Almost 1 in 3 Americans Didn’t Read a Book Last Year,” Intellectual Takeout, October 19, 2015, accessed July 28, 2016, http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/almost-1-3-americans-didn%E2%80%99t-read-book-last-year

Say something creative

Yes. Someone actually asked me that. The request: “Say something creative in 150 characters or less. Grab my attention.”

Here is my on-the-spot 30-second reply:

An artist may paint an image of a stop sign on canvas and it earns some interest. A designer creates a stop sign and people stop. Message delivered.

Good design is more than this


(image via Jonathan Trier Brikner)

There’s more to being a design genius than this. Truly.

Just because you have a computer, laptop or tablet allowing you to download free fonts and free images and use some free app you discovered on Twitter does not make you a design genius.

Just because you “designed” a cool graphic image the way many misled souls believe they labored and “built” an IKEA bookshelf does not make you a design genius. [1]

Celebrated graphic designer, Milton Glaser, put it best:

Computers are to design as microwaves are to cooking.

Good design solves problems and presents stories. As a creative director for an international publishing house, my chief goal is to attract potential readers to new books by capturing a story in a single cover image. To illustrate the point further, an author (for whom I had just completed a book design) emailed me recently: “I’m getting some great feedback on my Facebook page about the cover. Thank you very much…” Good design is about communication: problem solved, story told.

NOTE: [1] For what it is worth, IKEA is not good design. It is nothing more than cheaper-than-Wal-mart veneer furniture, second-rate fabric products and wax-paper lamps. And don’t call IKEA “modern design” because modern design is so 1948. Seriously, the modernist movement began almost a century ago. But I digress.

Pornographers don’t sell pornography

AdPulp provides this:

“42.7% of consumer time online is spent with content sites, 28.6% is with communication sites, 16.1% with commerce sites and 5% on search sites.” Link

(For more detailed analysis visit OPA Link)

While a lot of content provider sites (i.e. news and entertainment sites) feel pressure to offer their content for free (and some have already removed their firewalls—i.e. TNYT and WSJ) the question remains—how does an organization provide “free” content without going bankrupt?

Jake McKee’s post—You’re selling the wrong thing—sited the McGuire HuffingtonPost Porn Knows What It’s For—Do You? as an answer to that question. To excerpt some notable quote from McGuire’s article:

“Pornographers… don’t seem to care much about how they do it—they’ll just find ways to give people the orgasms however people want them given… magazines… online photos, online videos… why are newspapers… having such a hard time?… they have a fundamental misunderstanding of what they do.

“The value of a newspaper is not that it gives me information; the value of a newspaper is how it selects information…”

And here’s a necessary mainstream-media-sucks, blogs-rule rant from McGuire:

“Blogs are excellent selectors of information, while newspapers are pretty clunky at it—because for the past 300 years they existed in an ecosystem where information was scarce. Now information (and access to it) is abundant.”

McGuire misses the point in the steam of his own blog-rant.

Blogs survive as scavengers of info. Blogs select and repackage recycled information. Blogs—with the exception of maybe 50 techno-intelligentsia sites—rarely provide original content. The mainstream media behemoths still provide the bulk of online content. Here’s were McGuire is correct: pornographers don’t care about how or by what vehicle they deliver the content—online or offline. Pornographers bank on three basic actions: consumption, evangelism, purchase (and repeat).

Or to put it another way: “delivering anticipated, personal and relevant [content] to people who actually want” it. (Source). Do people still consume news? Yes. Do the majority of people want to pay for it? No. How does a news/entertainment organization earn revenue online? IMHO, online advertising + products = revenue. Translation: offer ad rates (dictated by web traffic) plus and an online store with shopping cart for souvenirs related to the content the consumers want.