Wishbone can’t wish away a data breach

The quick polling app Wishbone, popular with teenagers, lost 2 million of its users’ email addresses and 287,000 phone numbers. Then it posted no apology — just a “no big deal” email to its users. Most of the apologies I critique are too defensive or company-centric, but I’ve never before seen one that’s basically says, … Continued

Why American Express should shout about its bad news, not hide it

A frequent flyer friend recently received an email regarding the American Express Platinum credit card. It includes some unpleasant news, but unless you’re the type that reads every word of every email, you’d probably miss it. That’s a mistake, because burying the bad news creates a backlash, now that everyone spreads news on social media. Here’s the … Continued

The self-serving Michael Flynn resignation letter is mostly fluff

Michael Flynn resigned yesterday as Donald Trump’s national security advisor. Media reports stated that he’d lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the content of his pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian Ambassador. Resignation letters should take responsibility, apologize, and say nothing further — but Flynn’s is strangely full of fluffy praise for Trump. Flynn’s letter is … Continued

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: many words, hardly any meaning

Roger Goodell gave his “State of the NFL” press conference yesterday in the run-up to Super Bowl LI. Reporters asked difficult questions, and he gave mealy answers. If you’re looking for a tutorial on how to not answer questions, this is your chance to learn a lot. I’ll translate for you. (Based on the NFL’s transcript, … Continued

You should avoid lists of words to avoid

People keep sending me word lists. “Use these words,” they say. “Don’t use these other words.” If you want to be a better writer, these lists are useless, because they don’t change how you think. Words to ban from tech? This list is way too short Robert Dean lists “20 bullsh*t buzzwords that should be banned … Continued

10 easy New Year’s resolutions for writers in 2017

Want to write better? Change a writing habit. Here are ten ways to be a better writer: pick one, then stick with it. (Tell me which one you picked in the comments.) 1. Stop sending first-draft emails. Most of what you write is email. While it creates the biggest impression in aggregate, you’re not spending … Continued

Comcast recovers nicely from a slippery situation

Everybody loves to hate Comcast, America’s biggest cable company. On Monday, in Indianapolis, its repair technicians created a situation that led to multiple car accidents, then behaved arrogantly and denied being responsible. Comcast’s response is not bad; it’s direct, personal, and promises to make things better. What happened in Indy? Several Comcast repair trucks with “cherry-pickers” … Continued

Responding to objections to “Writing Without Bullshit”

A lot of people think my writing advice is wrong. When you apply the principles in my book at work, you’re going to encounter resistance, because the way I teach writing is not conventional. Here’s a set of objections and counterarguments for when people tell you you’re doing it wrong. Business writing has worked fine for many … Continued