Recently at a networking group meeting, which I attend regularly, we had a guest speaker who runs a video production company. I'm always very interested in hearing about other people’s businesses and to learn about their wares, services, lessons, and successes. For the most part, I find these sessions to be useful and interesting. Video, to me, is really important to this online milieu in which we are working. It's like a cousin or a branch of the family of work that we do at Solidus – content marketing.
I was excited to hear about our long-lost cousin’s business. I found myself impressed with the quality of the company’s work, nodding my head with the points that he was making about branding, image, and reaching your customers, etc. However, midway through the presentation, he said: “No one reads anymore. Video is now the only way to reach your customers.” Wait, what? A couple of people sort of glanced at me. (Maybe that was my imagination.) I felt like I was on the spot for a second.
I considered this to be somewhat in poor taste since I had already introduced myself and what it is that Solidus does, i.e., work with words to help businesses craft their messages.
Are we really a culture of morons? I know that I'm a little outside of the norm when it comes to reading and writing, but really? No one wants to read anymore? Not at all? It’s true that writing, especially for mass audiences, needs to be done simply and succinctly. According to some studies, the average reading skill level was estimated to be at around the 8th to 9th grade. I think it's actually lower than that, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t read anymore. It just means we’ve had to change the way we write for different audiences. And FYI, people have to read when they watch videos/commercials all the time.
When I pitch to potential customers, I would never cut down another form of content marketing (especially not when a videographer is in the room, wink, wink). Like I said, we’re all part of the same family. For me, this business is about how to help other businesses succeed by doing what we do. That means working together to find the right mix of content and promotion, no matter what form it may take.
Solidus works in conjunction with all kinds of other content providers, including video production companies! Can’t we all just get along?
My advice overall: Be careful who you’re dissin’ because you never know who you’re going to offend. By Emily Trask
I like symmetry in words.
I like small, medium, large. It’s got a nice balance to it. Three general sizes that anyone can relate to, in a nice, logical order. I tend to think of extra large as a cop out. It should be something more like “massive.” And it should go on from there: jumbo, gargantuan, colossal, monolithic. I bet it would inspire more diets if people had to ask, “Do you have this in a whopping?”
I also like ready, set, go. The three states of a task or an action, and in the only order that makes sense. You wouldn’t go before you were ready. It works well.
But I recall that someone once asked me, “Hey, since Emily is blonde and Emily is brunette, does that make you the redhead?” It was a funny line, but I was struck with the asymmetry of the phrase.
Blonde, brunette, redhead. Not even red hair or red haired but redhead. Like there isn’t even any hair involved at all. If I spend too much time in the sun without a hat and without sunscreen, I’ll show you a redhead. It seems like if you were going to go by color like that, it would be more like yellowhead, brownhead (or blackhead, but … ewwww), and redhead. The British have it all figured out – blonde, brunette, and ginger.
I don’t know. I guess one thing is certain – the thought of your sailing ship being boarded by the nefarious Brunettebeard the Pirate wouldn’t have inspired as much fear, would it?By Steve Boudreault
Early on in my editorial career, I would start at a company and invariably my colleagues would be either my age or older. Considerably older. That huge age gap never really made sense to me, but the dynamic did. There was an older generation of editors and we were coming up behind them. Circle of life.
Now that I'm in the middle of my career -- or possibly toward the end, nothing in life is certain -- I can't help but notice that there isn't a new crop of editors coming of age behind me. The only young editor I've encountered in the past few years is the talented Katie Ells, but she's the exception to the rule. Old editors are retiring and dying off and there aren't nearly enough young folks to replace them. What's the deal?
I can appreciate that it's a very specific calling. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me "Oh, I could never do what you do!" I'd have $5.65. But is it really not calling anyone anymore?
Over the years, I've had several people ask to apprentice with me, and one or two actually completed their training, only to drift away and never be heard from again. Could editorial work really be that unengaging?
Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places. I know that since Corporate America started circling the drain that a lot of companies have downsized their editorial departments -- some of them right out of existence -- so perhaps the next generation of editors are almost entirely virtual. That would be a mixed blessing. I'd be pleased to know that there are younglings to carry the flame, but what a tragedy that they'll never know the camaraderie, nerdy joy, and heated discussions regarding the English language that only an editorial department has.
Ah, well. I can't force anyone to follow in my footsteps. But if there are any young people just starting out and considering an editorial career, I'll tell you this much -- it's more rewarding than you can possibly imagine
By Steve Boudreault
Welcome to 2014! Or is it 2014? See what I did there? I typed the same number, but in the first instance I sounded out "two thousand fourteen" in my head, and in the second, "twenty fourteen." But you weren't in my head at that moment -- and be thankful for small favors -- so you wouldn't know that's what I was doing.So what's the story with 2014? I'm mostly hearing "two thousand fourteen," but that's so strange. It's actually been strange for 13 years, but I'm just now getting around to discussing it. Hey, I've been busy.What's strange is that the precedent is well-established for pronouncing years. You wouldn't say that the Battle of the Little Bighorn took place in "one thousand eight hundred seventy-six" or that the Apollo 14 landed on the moon in "one thousand nine hundred seventy-one." You'd say "eighteen seventy-six" and "nineteen seventy-one," just as surely as you'd say "twenty fourteen."But people don't. Why?Honestly, I blame 2001: A Space Odyssey. (I'd assign specific blame to the film or the novel, but since they were developed concurrently, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke are equally to blame.) They conditioned us from the late '60s to refer to it as "two thousand one" (or "two thousand and one," which makes me queasy) so that when we reached 2001, there was really nothing else to call it, and the naming convention stuck.I suppose it'll stay this way until we reach the 2100s, but I plan to be long dead by then, so it won't bother me. Much.
By Steve Boudreault