Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Adding a Little Clarity to Shankman’s Animated Message

Peter Shankman talked a lot.

Peter Shankman talked fast.

And in a talk titled “First, SHUT UP,” Peter Shankman didn’t take his own advice.

Ah, but we kid because we care—after all, we still came away with plenty of worthy tips last week when the founder of Help a Reporter Out spoke at PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin’s monthly meeting.

The theme of his hyperactive, hour-plus presentation was “new rules for communication in an era of social media.” In the interest of rule #2 (brevity), we’ll let you read a synopsis somewhere else.

Instead, I’d like to zero in on just one big point Shankman made: the importance of good writing.

What is good writing today, however? The Internet continues to advance more informal, conversational communication—the kind of writing that horrifies traditionalists and even, to some extent, a well-known social media thought leader such as Shankman.

As a pet peeve, he cited the spread of text-friendly shorthand into realms where it’s neither necessary nor appropriate, such as an interview thank you note.

But I’m not here to slam your Us and 2s. As stated above, I’m all for brevity, and shorthand often does the trick.

What I’m more concerned about is clarity.

In the Internet Age, it seems we’re sacrificing being clear for being quick. From email to blog posts to text messages to facebook updates, we’re all writing more often … while making less sense.

Fortunately for you and me, that means there’s an opportunity to stand out with a simple, focused message. So whatever you’re writing, stop to ask yourself if your point is clear. Better yet, ask somebody else to read your writing and assess it based on the same criterion.

And if my point isn’t clear here, feel free to call me on it. At which point, unlike Peter Shankman, I’ll just shut up.


Peter said...

Make a deal with you - next time, you can pay the cost of admission, and I'll just sit there and not say anything. I'm assuming that'll be helpful, as well.



Tom Groff said...

Thanks for your intriguing idea, Peter--just sitting there and saying nothing would be fascinating in an Andy Kaufman/performance art kinda way. I say go for it!