Do U Ck Spelling?

A victim of all the texting and instant messaging is spelling. You simply don’t have time to spell everything out. Everything becomes acronyms or shortenings.  Page 3 in today’s Washington Post has a feature on the importance of spelling and grammar. One reader likens proper grammar/spelling to using the proper notes in music (if you don’t, the music just doesn’t sound right).  As a writer, I agree. However, does the public agree? Do most people even realize when something is not spelled correctly or when grammar is poor? I once worked with a “writer” who did not know how to make his subject and verb agree. And he was completely unaware. Recently, on a DCPubs (a Yahoo group) discussion, someone asked what was wrong with using “their” as a gender-neutral alternative to “he or she.” This person was completely unaware that one is plural and the other singular.  (As an aside, we HEAR this all the time in conversation, but in formal writing?)

So, I ask you, are spelling and grammar important? Do you notice lapses in either or both?




Person to Person

Facebook has exploded in popularity. MySpace is super popular. There are many other social networking sites I have never even heard of. All of this points to an increase in using the Internet to connect with other people. Person to person. How is this changing marketing? For one, marketing is increasingly more targeted. It is by-passing traditional avenues and heading straight to its most likely audience. I just checked out www.gather.com. Big national stores like Borders and Starbucks have a presence there.  I wonder how their experiment is working out. Are you more likely to shop at either place because you joined a social group they sponsor on a social networking site? I guess that is the million dollar question. On the other hand, can you afford to ignore a burgeoning movement in the way people communicate with each other? 




The 4 Ps

In marketing communications, we focus on just one of the four ps — promotion. However, as a marketer, you must consider the other three ps–price, product and placement. Often, we concentrate on having the best promotional materials but not the item or service we are promoting. For instance,  a beautiful ad might draw attention to your lovely widget, but if your widget is too expensive or is not available, then there will be no sale. Because the truth is, at the end of the day, we are all trying to make a sale. Associations are looking for members. Stores are looking to move merchandise. Even ideas are “sold.” We  call that persuasion.

MarComm people don’t or can’t control the other three ps. But I think it is part of our job as advisers to make sure our clients understand that promotion alone does not make the sale. And it is also our responsibility to understand what the product, service or idea is.




My newest web venture

It’s kind of funny. I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time now, and last night I went to a WNBA event here in Washington (not a basketball game but an event sponsored by the Women’s National Book Association). The event was about book publicity and basically, the big conclusion of the evening was that to publicize a book today you must be on the web. You must have a website, or a blog, or both, or even just a MySpace page. Something on the WWW. Of course, that is just the start, because you have to get people to read your stuff too. 

That got me to thinking about my area of so-called expertise, marketing communications.  Specifically, I am thinking about traditional marketing communications tools such as brochures and press releases. Are these necessary anymore, or will they become as obsolete as Windows 98?  The answer I think is yes, eventually. Today, there is  still a market that is not tech savvy. There are people who enjoy print. Eventually those people will become obsolete, if you know what I mean.  For now, I think any savvy marcomm person needs to have a complete bag of tricks–press releases, blogs, websites, printed brochures, downloadable press kits, etc.  Also, there is a whole generation of marcomm people who are not comfortable in a completely electronic environment, or don’t understand how to go about it. Or they know just a little bit and are afraid to learn. Then, there are the young ‘uns, who have been on Facebook since it started and who prefer texting to talking. We are not only communicating to this generation, but we are using them to do the communicating for us (that is, we hire them as interns, account execs, copywriters or whatever). 

In a traditional marcomm agency, be it straight PR or straight advertising or a hybrid, the upper echelon (or “management”) may still be clinging to the days before email was an alternative to a phone call and videoconferencing was super cool. Webinars and podcasts are not a substitute for a good old fashioned ad or press release. And they keep doing the same old and wondering why they are losing market share. Change is always slower for an established company. But what distinguishes effective marketing in my opinion, is understanding who the target audience is and where they get their information. Thus, if we are marketing hearing aids, perhaps print (an older skewing medium) alone will do the trick. But if we are trying to expand a market, reach younger people, then we’d be foolish to expend all efforts on traditional media.