All posts by TJ Dietderich

Back to School (to get schooled)

School bus, rear viewAfter spending the bulk of one’s childhood and adolescence in school followed by four years of higher education and yet another two years of Even Higher education, one is understandably relieved to have the days of learning behind one. Or, to put it another way, I paid my time; let me be an adult in the real world now, please.

But, as your mother always told you, you never really stop learning. You hoped she meant that as “you never really stop learning what those divots on the sides of plastic wrap boxes are, for example,” but she actually meant it as “you never really stop learning, as in cramming your head full of stuff to prepare for a rather important test.” Except this time, you can’t really write the irregular Spanish verbs on the insole of your shoe to help you along. (Bloody irregular verbs.)

This is all a roundabout way of saying: I have to get my learning on, and I am not a happy newt. Continue reading

Going to the Darkside: A Flack Turns Marketer

low angle view of two fists collidingA few weeks ago, I began a new position. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be innovative and creative, to work with fantastic properties and develop social media strategies. It’s a dream come true for a flack like me.

One tiny thing. I’m not in the PR or publicity department. I’m on the marketing team.

I’ve gone over to the Darkside, guys. Red lightsaber and all. Continue reading

Your Copy Sucks: Touching On Purple Prose

Fountain pen, close-upPurple is the color of a cloak which your words should never wear, treading on a barren stair in the dark to meet a woman whom they know is from a city they’ve never been and should not dare make haste toward.

Or, in other words, quit the #@$%ing purple prose already.

Purple prose means writing that is way too flowery, effusive, extravagant, or showy. It’s a phrase used to describe works or passages that are out of place or just plain stupid. The poet Horace coined the phrase (sort of) and the lesson is don’t ever, ever go overboard.

“Elaborate poetry?” you may ask. “Florid diatribes? Surely these never appear in my businesslike writing of business!”

Are you sure? Continue reading

A Customer Service Adventure

2 cheescarryers on the cheesmarketThis post could probably also called A Tale of Two Cheeses. Or TJ Likes to Complain about Cheese. But please bear with me. There is a point.

You may recall my not-so-very groundbreaking observation that a lot our damage control is just plain ol’ customer service. We’re here to help, right? So here’s a story about that in action.

Last week, I went to the grocery store and was railroaded by my beloved roommate into buying two kinds of cheese. By some strange coincidence, when we got home we saw that both brands of cheese had been improperly packaged and were sort of gross. My roommate was sad. I was excited.

Hooray, I thought, now we can see some 21st century customer service in action. Let’s get us some replacement cheese! I took some photos, wrote down some batch numbers on the packages, and generally tried to be a very good consumer. I went to both brands’ websites to lodge my good-natured complaints. And this is what I found. Continue reading

Touching on !!! and ???

Exclamation PointIt’s one of those things we all agree we hate yet are all guilty of doing. Like not holding the elevator doors. But guys, seriously, this !!! and ??? stuff is getting out of hand.

One exclamation point? Fine. Necessary if you’re an excitable person! One question mark: cool. No problem.

Two exclamation points or question marks? Okaaaaaay, but you’re on thin ice, mister.

Three or more? Oh. Oh, we gonna fight. Continue reading

Emptying Your Inbox

Fire extinguisher beside office tray containing burning paperOne of my favorite office tricks is organizing my e-mail so that my inbox is empty. Productivity nerds sometimes call this tactic Inbox Zero, and it’s a rule by which I live my business life. I know that PR pros can be inundated with e-mail, perhaps more than most, and I truly believe everyone can tame their inbox.

How do you even begin? Let’s go on a magical productive journey. Continue reading

Handling the Haters

Businesspeople Playing Tug of WarHaters gon’ hate. That’s what they do. And in our industry, we’re going to see the haters popping up all over the interwebs. Chances are, unless you’re flacking for fuzzy baby lambs, someone out there is hatin’ on your client, your client’s product, or your company. (And even baby lambs may have made enemies; you never really know.) So what do you do with the haters, the negative comments, the angry bloggers, the furious tweeters, the disappointed Yelpers, the flaming Facebooker?

You could ignore them. Or you could do your job and handle the hate. Continue reading

PR Pros Join Forces to Ban April Fool’s Day

Dog looking away
The Spokespoodle

Nota Bene: Please note the date on which this post was originally posted and enjoy it with appropriate grains of salt.

April Fool’s, the longstanding day of traditional tomfoolery and silliness, is getting a swift kick in its pants from PR pros. Industry insiders and public relations associations confirm that this April 1st is no laughing matter.

“There are only 365 days in a year, and to devote one entire day to fake news, gags, and joke press releases is unacceptable,” said Bob Trout, CEO of Gold & Trout, a PR firm based in New York City. “That’s just one less day we can expect coverage for our clients.” Continue reading

Your Copy Sucks: Talkin’ British

Letter ULately a lot of folks have asked me questions that come down to a matter of Britishocity. Is it “gray” or “grey?” Is it “theatre” or “theater?” It’s okay if you’re confused about these things because, to be honest, you probably had little to do with dumping a bunch of Twinnings into Boston Harbor. Or is that Harbour?

We’ve whined about the differences between American and British English before, but spellings are a whole ‘nother animal. Or is that animaul? (Hint: it’s not.) If you care, here are some commonly mixed-up spellings that differ across the pond.
Continue reading