To write well and efficiently, choose the right level of editing

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Editing is like going to the dentist — nobody likes it, but you’ll avoid a lot of pain and ugliness if you get the right help at the right time. And you need to pick the right intensity of editing to match what your writing needs; you can’t fix a toothache with just a cleaning. Good … Continued

The economics of cord-cutting at my house

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When I cut the cable cord, I did it to get more of what I wanted (speed), not to save money. The economics are reasonable, but the benefits are a lot better. My earlier post that described how I cut the cable cord was far more popular than I expected. Several of you asked about the actual … Continued

McDonald’s announcement of marketing hires isn’t very meaty

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Troubled McDonald’s announced a new chief marketing officer and PR head. While the press release is as bland as a Big Mac with no secret sauce, the media swallowed it whole anyway. Here’s the actual news: McDonald’s hired Robert Gibbs, former Obama press secretary, as EVP, Global Chief Communications Officer (that is, head of PR). It … Continued

Effective titles and summaries: You had me at ‘Hello.’

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Every email, document, or post you write now competes with hundreds of other items for your reader’s attention. Two strategies will get them to read it: fascinate and summarize. In this post I explain how to balance these two concepts to create titles, subject lines, openers, and tweets that win over readers quickly. (A complete guide organized by … Continued

My cord cutting experience (and the bullshit that came with it)

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Last week I was a TV subscriber with a landline phone. Now I stream my TV and have much faster Internet. This transition was a lot harder than it sounded because service providers deceived me. Streaming your TV sounds like a simple idea. Our viewing is nearly all broadcast channels like Fox, premium channels like HBO, … Continued

No more than 1000 words

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Teachers should reward brevity, not bullshit. (This is a follow-on to yesterday’s post about teaching writing.) Writing assignments today look like this: Turn in 4- to 6-page paper on themes and symbolism is Raisin in the Sun by Monday morning. Everything is wrong with this. The page length trains students to focus on print rather than online, which … Continued

How we really should teach writing

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Here’s a radical idea. Let’s teach high school and college students to write stuff that they’ll actually need to write in life or in an office: emails, blog posts, social media posts, marketing copy, research reports, and presentations. Take time from analyzing Plato, Great Expectations and Catcher in the Rye and spend it instead analyzing great non-fiction writers like Mary Roach, Malcolm Gladwell, Michael … Continued

All customer service failures have one cause: broken promises

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All brands and businesses make promises. They promise low prices, fast service, or no hassles. Sometimes they fail to deliver on those promises. Customer service failure is about broken promises. When people get upset, it’s not because products or services are objectively bad. They get upset because of broken promises. Parents who buy their kids a $3.99 … Continued