Archive for the Good copy Category

Ovarian cancer: “Those words still haunt me”

Friday, March 1st, 2013

We often talk on this blog about how having real people tell their stories can be a great way of getting a message across. We also talk a lot about the power of short, simple, human words.

This new video, designed to raise awareness about the symptoms of ovarian cancer, is a great example of both.

Everyone in the video has experienced ovarian cancer in their family. I defy you to watch it without shedding a tear (and putting your hand in your pocket).

Please watch and share.

Disclaimer (more…)

Writing about diversity? Then keep it real

Monday, February 25th, 2013

cartoon of flute and marathon number

A client recently asked me to help them with a brochure about their efforts to promote gender diversity at the firm. The job involved interviewing the company’s female leaders about their experiences of the workplace.

During the interviews, one name kept cropping up as the company that got diversity right: McKinsey.

This consulting firm, every interviewee said, really knew how to look after its women. It was the firm they all regarded as the model for any company trying to build a more inclusive culture. I suspected it was the firm they all secretly wanted to work for.

Intrigued, I decided to check out the section about diversity on McKinsey’s site. (more…)

Could you say it more simply?

Monday, January 28th, 2013

At Doris and Bertie, we hate annoying jargon and pretentious gobbledygook.

So we were delighted to discover the Up-Goer Five text editor. This online tool challenges you to describe an idea using only the most common 1,000 words in English. (more…)

Now here’s how you write an apology…

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

On a recent trip to her local cinema, a good friend of mine had to abandon the film half way through because a fight broke out between other customers. Horrific, eh?

So she contacted Curzon, the cinema operator, via its website. She was hoping for a refund but didn’t really expect to hear anything back.

Soon afterwards, however, she got an email from Nigel Stowe, Director of Operations at Curzon. Nigel’s letter thoroughly delighted her – and we can see why. It’s a great example of how a well-executed apology can translate a disaster into customer loyalty. (more…)

Fight on the beaches!

Monday, February 13th, 2012

We love this anecdote from The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill, compiled by Dominique Enright:

There is a story that an American general once asked Churchill to look over the draft of an address he had written. It was returned with the comment ‘Too many passives and too many zeds.’ The general asked him what he meant and was told: ‘Too many Latinate polysyllabics like “systematize”, “prioritize”, and “finalize”. And then the passives. What if I had said, instead of “we shall fight on the beaches”, “Hostilities will be engaged with our adversary on the coastal perimeter”?

Sadly, all too much business writing is reminiscent of “Hostilities will be engaged with our adversary on the coastal perimeter”.

So if you struggle to get the people in your organisation to talk like human beings, point them to Winston.

Inspiring leaders use short, simple, powerful words.

Not pompous corpspeak packed with off-putting nonsense about synergizing innovative technologies, incentivizing customer engagement and integrating frameworks of excellence.

For more on the Latinate quality of much bad business writing see Speak English, why don’t you?