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Business writing and killer zombies

Readers want to know who is doing what. They need humans and active verbs. Without them your message withers and dies. Nominalisations are often to blame – nouns made from other parts of speech that express complex ideas. They trick unwary writers into killing off simple nouns and verbs and turn prose to sludge. Here’s…

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I like words

When copywriter Robert Pirosh arrived in Hollywood in 1934, eager to land a screenwriter job, he could have penned a letter stating his intention. How far it might have taken him, who knows. But Pirosh was smarter than that. His paean landed three interviews and a job as a junior writer with MGM. Pirosh went on to write…

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Just the good stuff

This week’s best bits from around the web. ECONOMICS – American shopper: The world is once again relying too much on American consumers to power growth OPINION – WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT MACHINES THAT THINK? – Freedom vs security: freedom at any cost? What are we willing to sacrifice to feel safe? Are we…

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Just the good stuff

This week’s best bits from around the web. WORK – Proof that you should get a life – William McPherson has a Pulitzer Prize and no money. He isn’t wretched-of-the-earth poor, but he’s poor WORLD – American intelligence and torture: A hard pill to swallow – Oil gluts, late-1970s style – Falling Gas Prices Are Fantastic. Unless You’re…

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Business writing: tricks of the trade

Good enough for Shakespeare; good enough for you. Give ‘em a whirl. Your words will sing. Alliteration: Dead as a doornail. Ban the bomb. Burn your bra. Power to the people. Polyptoton: Please please me. Grace me no grace. The rain it raineth every day. A stranger in a strange land. Antithesis (one thing, then another): The well-bred…

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Content strategy: really?

Content might be king, but is it strategy? Since when was saying something useful to the right people strategic? We’ve been doing it for years – saying things we hope will grab attention and change minds. We called it communication. It required thinking before talking. And we asked questions like: Who are we trying to…

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What you missed | Brand storytelling through social media

A Vernacular report:  5:30 PM Tuesday 18 November 2014. Stop saying social, because your customers don’t think in those terms. Straight shooters put PRINZ punters in the picture. Here’s what you missed – I took a chair, slugged a beer, and pondered two questions. One: is there anything more to say about social media that hasn’t…

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What you missed | Zuora: The subscription experience city tour

A Vernacular report:  2:00 PM Tuesday 14 November 2014. Welcome to the subscription economy. Tien Tzuo, founder and CEO of Zuora – a provider of software that gears up businesses to sell products and services on a subscription basis – shared his story with 50 execs gathered in a conference room on the first floor of Auckland’s…

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Just the good stuff

This week’s best bits from around the web. WORLD The war against Islamic State: The Kurdish Stalingrad. READ >> Burkina Faso’s ‘Black Spring’. READ >> THINKING Speed Kills: Fast is never fast enough. READ >> Freedom from food. READ >> Jazz Legend Bill Evans on the Creative Process, Self-Teaching, and Balancing Clarity with Spontaneity in…

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The curse of knowledge

Turns out we know too much, and it’s a curse. The trouble is, once we know something we can’t imagine not knowing what we do. So our messages occasionally miss the mark, because they pay no regard to the ‘unknowing’ state of mind of our listeners. Academics are cursed by knowledge. They’ve spent years –…

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