Word pollution

Lack of discipline pollutes your writing. Multiply by the whole world of “content creators” and we’re all consuming brown, dirty prose. I’ve spent time in Beijing and São Paulo. While the people were wonderful, the air was awful. A light brown miasma cast a pall on everything, making our eyes itch and making every incredible cityscape appear … Continued

Why can’t an insurance company talk like a person?

My insurance company Vermont Mutual was kind enough to pay my claim for house damage after this awful winter. But before I repair my house, I’d like remodel their customer communication. Vermont Mutual deserves a lot of credit. They were speedy to send an assessor to check the damage, and paid a fair amount. In … Continued

Blog comment spam poetry

Blogging is wonderful. People all over the world have shared their perspectives with me. While many of my blog commenters are apparently not native speakers of English, I find their idiom delightful, almost poetic. I had to reject 1,077 comments on this blog. But so you won’t miss out, I present here the most poetic excerpts from … Continued

How to be creative.

I became creative in December 1995 at the age of 37. The previous May, Forrester Research had hired me as an analyst to write what were supposed to be groundbreaking research reports. I worked for two very smart people, Mary Modahl and Bill Bluestein. My first report turned out great. I loved the process and the result. … Continued

4 ways to publish (or self-publish) a book — and how to choose

If you’d like to publish (or self-publish) a book, you now have more options than ever. You also have a complex set of choices. I’ll walk you through them and finish with a flow-chart for the various alternatives, including Kickstarter. This post is for potential how-to and business book authors. If you’re writing fiction or history, you’ll have to … Continued

The successful cold email: a step-by-step recipe

You need to get help from someone who doesn’t know you. You’ve got their email address, but you just sit there staring at the blinking cursor. What will get the right response? Show respect, then tell the truth. Take the time to do the cold email right. Be short and to-the-point. Build the email step by step. … Continued

A podcast that gets to the heart of writing without bullshit

I recently did a Skype interview with Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman, the coauthors of Social Marketing to the Business Customer and proprietors of the B2B branch of the outstanding podcast For Immediate Release. Paul and Eric gave me a chance to talk about what I’m passionate about: the lack of candor in most business communication, how … Continued

The 4 questions to ask before you write anything: ROAM

Effective writing creates a change in the reader. Whether you’re writing an email, a blog post, or a strategy document, four elements determine your success: Reader, Objective, Action, and iMpression. I use the (slightly skewed) acronym ROAM to keep all four in mind as I write. Readers: Who is the audience? Before writing anything, visualize your readers. … Continued