Friday, November 4, 2016

Forwarding Address

Now that I've gone freelance and have a website showcasing my work, I'll be posting over there. I suppose that if I have any major rants, they can live on this blog. Otherwise, find me at from now on.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Losing work is NOT a thing of the past

Remembering WordPerfect makes me feel old, but never having to ever use WordPerfect again makes me feel youthful and free. In the "olden days," typing merrily along (with my copy propped against a steel TypePal copy holder), I might accidentally hit the insert key instead of the delete key. There I'd be, blithely overwriting unknown quantities of characters, sentences, or paragraphs, instead of simply deleting one character and moving on.

Then there were random crashes, file naming errors (this was back when filenames were restricted to—I forget exactly—maybe 8 characters, and couldn't include spaces), and seemingly scores of other interesting ways to ruin your day by losing the work you'd done.

Today, I use Dropbox and a variety of other tools and I feel super safe about my work always being saved...but it's a false sense of security. Sure, my Word docs are backed up to Autosave all the time and to Dropbox at lightning speed, but that lulls a person, doesn't it? Makes you forget about the importance of constantly saving. Makes you forget about the difference between composing in Word and composing in a browser.

Makes you scream and whine bad words when you're trying to learn WordPress and you've been composing in the browser and suddenly you get a very nasty error:
Not Acceptable
An appropriate representation of the requested resource /public_html/wp-admin/page.php could not be found on this server.
Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
and then you just can't recover the post, no matter what you try. (Like, copying the entire text, intending to paste it into another doc, but then copying your password onto the clipboard just before deleting everything...)

Lucky for me, I won't have to rewrite much; maybe thirty minutes worth of work. Lesson learned.

Mostly. I'm actually composing this in the browser. Old dog.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Not the brightest coworkers.

My new coworkers are loud, demanding, and obnoxious. They're always hungry and always leaving poop on my doorstep. They interrupt conference calls with their cackling. This one even spies on me.

But they never drink the last of the coffee, and they don't break the printer, steal my pens, or load dishes incorrectly in the dishwasher. I think we'll get along just fine, after all.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Chill out, already.

Another for the Lessons Learned file.

I got a lead on a healthcare copywriting project via LinkedIn ProFinder and applied; they responded asking me to bid the job. They provided most of the details, but not all; one item stipulated "some" sections to be written, but not how many.

I'd already mentioned that I might have questions, so I sent an email. But I couldn't just ask for clarification around the specific things I needed to know to finish the bid—no, no, that would be too easy. Instead, to show that I had experience in the industry and that I'd given the project a lot of thought (and because I simply wanted to know), I went ahead and fired off seven...SEVEN...additional questions. Including, to my chagrin, "would I have direct access to the client" for even more questions, once I was on the job.

Nice work, dumbass. Followed up today and, of course, they've "already got it taken care of." Because who wants an overeager show-off on their job, let alone asking for access to their client? Pro tip: Don't do that.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Could indenting make subject lines stand out?

I spent part of this morning working on an article about best practices for responsive emails in the pharmaceutical industry, a sort of 101 for pharma marketers. One section dealt with optimizing headlines. Then I saw this in my inbox:

The indented subject line really stood out in the list of emails, and I thought, how clever! But then I clicked on the email and realized that it wasn't a clever indent, it was emojis from which Gmail was apparently saving me. After having "read" the email, the emojis appeared in the subject line.

My spam folder shows me that emails with emoji in the subject line are usually screened, but I must have told Gmail that Ads of the World mail isn't junk. It made me wonder, though, about actually just using spaces in the subject line to indent it and make it stand out. As soon as I get my MailChimp account set up, I'm going to give it a try.

Friday, March 4, 2016

"The flame beneath the pot"

Beautiful language can reach right off the page and startle you into a wide-awake, pleased wonderment, like a sudden kiss from someone you have a huge crush on. I read poetry in the hopes that I'll get that shivery rush.

Yesterday's Writer's Almanac poem, "Lobsters," by Howard Nemerov, did it. Even though the lovely turns of phrase are mostly morbid, I was enchanted with the powerful simplicity of the language.

By GrammarFascist (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

These lines in the second stanza made me want to applaud: "Their velvet colors / Mud red, bruise purple, cadaver green." The perfection of the phrase "mud red": it simultaneously brings to mind "blood red" and also that absolutely correct muddy ochre color of lobsters. "Cadaver green" is a horribly delicious (sorry) irony, describing creatures whose bodies won't last long enough to be called cadavers.

The ending of the poem is very Yeats-ian, very "what rough beast," to me, but maybe that's because I just finished reading The Stand for perhaps the tenth time. (King seems to have turned this poem of 22 lines into a novel of over 1,000 pages). I won't spoil it; go read the poem.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The old-fashioned way

I just wrote an inquiry letter to the creative director of a 118-year-old brand on this:

I bought this at an antique store last week. Surprisingly, ribbons are available on Amazon and, apparently, also at Staples. Guess I'm not the only one.

I wanted to say, "This is not just some email I'm dashing off, or InMail, or a tweet...I really thought about this." I didn't want to say "enough to retype it twice," but that may have come through.) For a brand that cares about quality and heritage, I thought this might be a good approach.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Lesson Learned: It's no good if you don't capture it.

I recently did a workshop with a client to define some key elements of the brand. We talked and brainstormed for about three hours, doing some great work, delving deep and coming up with a lot of insights.

At the end of the workshop, I blithely snapped a few pics of the whiteboard over which I'd just been presiding. The client was waiting for me for another activity, so I was hustling to gather all my gear and get on with the agenda. Someone even asked me if I wanted them to record the stuff on the whiteboard. "That's OK," I said. "I took pictures." I felt capable and prepared.

When I got back to my office, here's what I found on my iPhone:

Not terribly useful, huh?

Lesson learned: Take your time with recording valuable data and insights. You risk wasting the entire experience—not to mention embarrassing yourself in front of your client—by failing to do so.

Fortunately, with some time spent in Photoshop, zooming in and changing the contrast on the hard-to-read Post-Its in my terrible photo, I was able to save the information. Needless to say, I chalked those hours up to tough lessons learned.