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Media Orchard

Rants and raves of a Dallas public relations firm, since 2005

Mike Drago

Recent Posts

Jul 02

New Book Says Something Every Tech Company Needs to Hear

Here in the inner sanctum of the Idea Grove, the writing team spends a lot of time talking about the tactics and methods that make content about business-to-business technology more interesting and effective.

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May 19

Most PR and Marketing Folks Don’t Use Outlines, But They Really Should

I. Intro: Most PR and marketing folks don’t outline before they write for clients, but they really should
II. Reason One: Saves you time
III. Reason Two: Ensures you touch all the bases
IV. Reason Three: Helps you write with clarity, precision
V. Reason Four: Helps client communications
VI. Conclusion: Outlines can make you more effective

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Mar 20

Richard Branson Is Right: Business Language is Awful

Few things drive me crazier than the jargon-loaded, meaningless, bloated language I see used in far too many marketing and PR campaigns. Let’s be honest: Much of it is impenetrable dreck, unreadable to the point of being offensive.

I swear, sometimes it’s almost like we hope no one will read it. As long as the client isn’t complaining, what’s the big deal, right? As for whether or not the client’s message is having any effect? Nevermind all that.

Gazillionaire Richard Branson, of all people, recently went off about jargon to his 4.2 million followers on LinkedIn. Branson cuts right to the point:

“Some people love speaking in jargon, using fancy words and turning everything into acronyms. Personally, I find this simply slows things down, confuses people and causes them to lose interest. It’s far better to use a simple term and commonplace words that everyone will understand, rather than showing off and annoying your audience.”

Exactly. Lousy language is annoying. It causes people to tune you out.

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Aug 01

RANT: One Guy’s PR Creepiness Throws Unfairly Harsh Light on an Entire Profession

by Mike Drago |

public relations, PR ethics

I confess to making bad assumptions about public relations and marketing practitioners during my previous life as a newspaperman. Sure, I liked a lot of the good people we referred to derisively as “flaks,” and I even hoisted a beer or three with them on occasion. But in the end, they were not to be trusted in matters of business.

I’ve since learned that my assumption (You know what happens when you assume, right?) was rooted in plain, old-fashioned ignorance. As much as we wanted to believe that we in journalism held the high ground on all ethical issues, the guy on the other end of the line was working hard to live up to his own standard, and his bar for honesty and integrity was equally as high.

The Public Relations Society of America maintains a member Code of Ethics that pledges to “be honest and accurate in all communications.” It says, “We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.” And, “We deal fairly with clients, employers, competitors, peers, vendors, the media, and the general public.”

Everything I’ve encountered or observed since my career transition supports the fact that the overwhelming majority of “flaks” are working to uphold these noble ideals. That’s why a story that broke last weekend in Dallas is so disappointing.

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Apr 18

RANT: Vague Language is the Scourge of Marketing and Public Relations

“We the human capital of the United States, in order to facilitate a cutting-edge, best-of-breed convergence of revenue-generating entities, actualize Justice, insure scalable domestic Tranquility, provide for the interdependent interfacing of defensive capabilities, promote mutually beneficial functionality in the North American market space, and secure the Blessings of harmonized, re-engineered culture to ourselves and our Posterity, do conceptualize and cultivate this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Let us bow our heads and give thanks that Gouverneur Morris, the Founding Father credited with writing the preamble to the United States Constitution, was a far better writer than many of today’s marketers. Otherwise, millions upon millions of children would never have been able to memorize the preamble in grade school – much less understand it – and the Union might never had held together.

A Confession and a Theory

I have a confession: Vague language drives me bonkers. And ever since I made the jump to Internet marketing firms after a long career in newspapers, I have puzzled on this question: Why is so much business writing mind-numbingly obtuse? I developed an armchair theory. Vague language is high art in business because a negotiation is a courtship of adversaries, and ambiguity is necessary to avoid driving off the other party before you have time to draw him in. We marketers have simply gotten lazy and adopted it.

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Jan 21

RANT: Let’s Get Rid of 'Content Marketing'

What am I doing? I’ve been asked the question dozens of times since I made the jump to our Dallas marketing firm from a 20-some-year career reporting and editing for major news outlets. (Yes, I was the MSM, and I swear there is no such thing as a media conspiracy.) Now I work in content marketing, which is not a new concept; and nine out of 10 companies are doing it in some form. But after winding through explanations of content marketing with neighbors, family members and business contacts, I’ve concluded that what we do is not well understood. I think content marketing needs a better name.

Like a lot of business terms, content marketing can glaze a listener’s eyes. Rather than enlighten and inform, the name obscures. Not “marketing,” so much. Everyone understands marketing, more or less. No, I’ve decided, the problem is content. The word in and of itself is, well, boring and vague. I hated the word when the newsroom adopted it years ago to mean “news delivered by any means.” I hate it even more now, because I think it devalues the work Internet marketing firms do for clients and their noble goal of developing closer relationships with their customers and prospects.

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