Friday Buzzword: ‘PowerPoint Ranger’

PowerPoint Ranger: Someone with no real-world experience who relies heavily on PowerPoint presentations to express even the simplest ideas. Term likely originated in the Department of Defense.
Nominated by Larry Shenosky

I like this one. Have you ever seen a PowerPoint Ranger in action?

Former Attorney General Edwin Meese once said, “An ‘expert’ is somebody who is more than 50 miles from home, has no responsibility for implementing the advice he gives, and shows slides.”

I think you could substitute “PowerPoint” for “slides.” My all-time favorite PowerPoint is the classic Gettysburg Cemetery Dedication.

For a chuckle, visit BuzzWhack. You can even sign up for the Buzzword of the Day.


Four Bucks Is Dumb


Score one for McDonalds. Starbucks is trying hard to re-position itself in these frugal times. I don’t know that it’s working. Meanwhile, McDonalds has launched their “Four Bucks Is Dumb” campaign. Ouch.

As one blogger wrote, “Coffee is good. But four bucks is dumb.”

Danielle Steel and Her 1946 Olympia Typewriter

I never expected to write about a romance novelist. But last summer I read a story about Danielle Steel in the Roanoke Times that was fascinating and inspiring. I’m always interested in the creative processes and work habits of others.

But first, what are your tools of production? I have a desktop computer in my office, but 97 percent of the time I’m tapping away on my laptop.

Steel, a leader in a genre that racked up $1.37 billion in 2006 book sales, has written all 75 of her books using a 1946 Olympia manual typewriter. She “pounds out all her novels in a tiny office in her San Francisco home,” and “first drafts are usually done in punishing 20-hour shifts.” Steel loves the work and cares little about fame.

I appreciate technology; it allows me to live in a small town. Still, from a creative standpoint, Danielle Steel reminded me it’s not all about the tools. Rather, it’s the passion, work ethic and storytelling that matter, whether in romance novels or B2B marketing communications.

Friday Buzzword: ‘Actionable’

actionable: A legal term that’s been co-opted by marketers, consultants and techies. In the legal world, it’s “giving cause for legal action,” such as a lawsuit. Now it’s anything you can take action on. “After analyzing your production line, we recommend these four actionable steps.”
Nominated by Max Matthews

OK, so this train left the station long ago, but what do you think of the buzzword “actionable”? I don’t care for it. It’s corporate speak. Silliness.

“Action” is a perfectly good noun that’s been around for centuries. Why turn it into an adjective?

(I know my objection is futile.)

For a chuckle, visit BuzzWhack. You can even sign up for the Buzzword of the Day.

What’s a buzzword? BuzzWhack defines it as “a usually important-sounding word or phrase used primarily to impress laypersons.” (Like “actionable.”)

The Indiana Jones of Typos

Since I’m on the subject of mistakes, it’s an opportune time to tell you about Jeff Deck. Deck is a Dartmouth grad who has made it his mission to eliminate typos from sea to shining sea. I read about him in the March issue of Reader’s Digest.

Deck is the founder of the Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL). He wears a fedora and has been called the Indiana Jones of typos. He spent most of 2008 traveling the country in his 1997 Nissan on the “Typo Hunt Across America.”

How far will Deck go?

He was once fined more than $3,000 for altering a historically significant sign at the Grand Canyon. He added a comma and changed womens’ to women’s.

Deck always carries his typo-correction kit, even to weddings. You never know when you’ll have to right wrong writing.

Why on Earth would a man devote himself to such an endeavor? For Deck, the idea began to crystallize at a Dartmouth reunion in 2007.

“There were classmates curing cancer, and I was doing nothing,” he said in Reader’s Digest. “I started thinking about how I could change the world in my humble way.”

One comma (or apostrophe) at a time.

Minimizing Mistakes

I cringed when I read the masthead of an issue of my e-newsletter. Instead of “Forward these headlines” it read “Foward these headlines.” I don’t know how it happened, but my guess is that it was some last-minute change that I forgot to spell-check.

Mistakes happen because we’re all human. There’s no getting around them. Some are worse than others, such as typos on giant billboards or, in the case of one advertiser, using an image of Woody Allen without permission that resulted in a $10 million lawsuit.

Since mistakes can’t be completely eliminated, the goal is to minimize them. Too many mistakes can compromise brands and consumer trust, as well as damage client-agency relationships. “Mistakes will kill you,” my former creative director used to say.

How do you minimize mistakes?

Continue reading “Minimizing Mistakes”

My First Day on Twitter

I didn’t know I would be featured in a mini case study after my first day on Twitter. But Handshake 2.0, a B2B news site where I contribute articles, picked up on my first day and wrote about it here.

My first day was pretty interesting. Here’s how it came about.

Two nights ago I decided it was time to jump on Twitter when a big sports agency (Octagon) emailed me about a new site called Twackle, an aggregator of sports tweets. They wanted me to write about Twackle (at ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG) and I thought, “It’s time for me to get on Twitter.”

So I did several things that got me rolling on Twitter:

Continue reading “My First Day on Twitter”