Category Archives: A Linking Mess

A Linking Mess – Sometimes social media content can lead to angst

Each week, “A Linking Mess” offers a handful of articles that have recently caught the attention of our Sr. Copywriter.

Facebook: envy producer.

Put That Resentment to Good Use – Wall Street Journal – It’s no secret that social media causes a lot people depression, insecurity, and envy. While some post banal updates of their lives, such as “Going to Home Depot to buy a hammer,” most people prefer to share only their best moments. (It seems like I’ve had at least one friend vacationing in Hawaii for about three consecutive years.) This Wall Street Journal article offers a way to deal by suggesting you put any envy and resentment to good use. Psychologists have identified two kinds of envy: malicious and benign. With malicious envy, a person is happy to see their envied “friend” cut down. In contrast, someone who experiences benign envy becomes motivated to match someone else’s success.

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A Case for Straightforwardness

Our weekly “A Linking Mess” series offers a handful of articles that have recently caught the attention of our Sr. Copywriter.

This is the best thing I’ve read in a long time.

No, I’m not aping the hyperbolic headlines you see in social media just to get you to read, although I’ve been meaning to write about that. I really mean it about this piece. The writer is a copywriter by trade, and he laments the overly complex and lofty language used in advertising and other marketing. He argues that if a company can’t describe its product and its benefits, then even a talented writer won’t be able to do it. And that’s when you end up describing something like accounting software as a “complete suite of solutions” or a “holistic, cross-platform experience.” And there’s that word – “experience.” Marketers often talk about selling an experience or an emotion. Or they describe a product as being “aspirational.” There’s a place for those things, of course, but I get impatient when I’m being sold a cleaning product with the promise that if I use it, I’ll have more time to live a more awesome life. I’d prefer more straightforward messaging, like: “decreases cleaning time by 30%,” even if the claim is a little dubious.

For Complex Products, Using Simple Language is a Value-Added Solution

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Sleep doesn’t matter. No wait, it does. | A Linking Mess

Each week, “A Linking Mess” offers a handful of articles that have recently caught the attention of our Sr. Copywriter.

Bed Frame - Green 360x220This week, I’m linking to three articles about sleep. The topic of sleep seems to get ever more attention, and not just from people like Leggett & Platt employees who have a vested interest in the subject. If you read these articles, prepare to see the requisite stock images of people sleeping (or trying to sleep). I should reach out to the stock-image people and sell them the many photos my wife has taken of me sleeping and spooning one of our dogs.

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A Wiki-Week — A Linking Mess for 03/27

I’m Shela Bannasch, filling in for my boss Paul M. Johnson while he is attending the ISPA Expo this week. As I am a young whippersnapper, I spend a lot of my time on the Internet and, when I’m not perusing the Facebook or watching cat videos, I sometimes like to read interesting articles and stuff. This week, I’m examining one of my favorite places on the Internet – Wikipedia.

The Future of Wikipedia: WikiPeaks? – The Economist

I’m a big fan of Wikipedia as both a source of knowledge and a source of entertainment. I may go there with the intention of looking up some actor’s filmography, but through a series of links, I find myself an hour later reading about the ghost town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. It’s fascinating. And while it may seem like a waste of time, it has made me pretty good at trivia.

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Some Ideas About Finding New Ideas: A Linking Mess for 3/13/14

Leave your desk to get real work done — Harvard Business Review

mountain RUNBefore I moved to the relative flatness of southwest Missouri from Phoenix, I went on a hike every day on a suburban mountain near my home. It was part of my daily routine, and I’d keep track of the number of days in a row I was able to get it done – I remember reaching 50 a few times. The hike lasted just a little over 30 minutes, but the 500-foot elevation gain made it solid exercise. But it had another benefit: it left me with my thoughts. I’d often come up with concepts for print ads or headlines or creative ways to make fun of my friends on my way up the curvy trail to the peak. Without any office-related distractions such as e-mails, phone calls, and visiting coworkers, I could focus on one “problem” for enough consecutive minutes to usually reach a satisfying solution.

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How good of a communicator R U? A Linking Mess for 03/07/14

“Talk like society talks” – and write like society reads via Talentzoo

This is a short blog entry about a topic that everyone in marketing communications has to address: when to “dumb down” their writing or even eschew grammar rules to fit the common vernacular. The example given is a hospital billboard that reads: “We make you feel good.” Although most people say they feel “good” rather than “well,” it is grammatically wrong. Many writing mediums, such as journalism, stick to long-held rules of grammar, but marketing, in most cases, has no such restraints.

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Is Coffee For Closers Only? A Linking Mess for 2/27/14

When “I’m sure it’s my fault” means “It’s not my fault” – Harvard Business Review


This Harvard Business Review article explores the challenges of cross-cultural workplace communication. The most important aspect of it seems to be the directness of language. The comparisons within this piece focus on British communication, which tends to be indirect, and Dutch and German communication, which is more direct. Most interesting, I think, is the mention of “upgraders” – words that emphasize and strengthen the other words around them – and “downgraders,” which do the opposite. In the Dutch and German style, upgraders are used. For example: “That is totally inappropriate.” In the British style, which seems very similar to how we communicate here in the U.S., a downgrader would probably be used instead: “That is a bit inappropriate.”

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Business in The Age of Skepticism – A Linking Mess for 02/21/14

Selling stuff in an age of skepticism – The Economist

This article from The Economist opens with a funny observation by the late British novelist Kingsley Amis, who as a skeptic of advertising was ahead of his time. Today, we live in an age of mass skepticism, and the landscape for marketers is as fraught as ever. Havas Media, a marketing agency, has done a series of worldwide surveys that indicate that people care less and less about brands. Its surveys revealed that a majority of people in Europe and America would not care if 92% of existing brands vanished. Of course, there is still the worship of brands (think Apple products), but lately advertisers have had to work harder. According to this piece, they have four avenues: acknowledge the skepticism; drown the skepticism with humor; disarm the skepticism with honesty; and make the case that buying your product will do good – like heal the planet or help the poor.

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Words & Business – A Linking Mess for 2/13/14

Introductory note: This is yet another “Best of 2013” article. But as we are well into February, it will be the last one I link. Sorry, I guess I’m sentimental – 2013 still holds so many great memories. Actually no, I just like articles on year-end lists. Except ones that litter nearly every Internet news page – things like “2013’s Top Photos of Celebrities Without Makeup.” There aren’t many nutrients in those stories, I can tell you from experience, and in terms of brain cells killed, each click equals the strength of a 12-ounce beer, single shot of liquor, or glass of wine.

Did you take a selfie of yourself twerking on Thanksgivukkah? – Wall Street Journal

Anyway, onto the article. It’s an interesting time to follow words, isn’t it? They storm onto the scene with fierce momentum, seem cool for about 90 seconds, and then are overused by your workmates for the next six months. This Wall Street Journal article details some of the top words in 2013, including “selfie,” which ultimately won Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year honor. But did you know that “selfie” originated in Australia – more than 10 years ago? And “twerking” arose from New Orleans two decades ago? But “Thanksgivukkah,” and a bunch of other less-popular creations like “Turkukkah,” resulted from the extremely rare concurrence of Thanksgiving and the first night of Hanukkah. We can give thanks that “Thanksgivukkah,” which unlike “selfie” and “twerking” graciously stopped torturing us a few months ago, won’t be heard from again – or at least 70,000 years according to some calculations. They will definitely run out of Internet by then.

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Creativity, Innovation, & Laziness — A Linking Mess For The Week of 1/27/14

LinkingMess2Largely by accident, there’s a theme to this week’s three articles. All three are about creativity, and each offers a perspective that some might consider unconventional, at least in the buttoned-up corporate world. For people who work in the creative realm, each of the ideas pushed in these articles will seem familiar.

Masterful inactivity – The Economist

This first piece, entitled “In Praise of Laziness,” describes an approach in which workers are less engaged with meetings and small tasks and instead have big gaps of time to be creative. A study at Harvard Business School reports that workers are more creative on low-pressure days vs. high-pressure days. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But, at the same time, wouldn’t you think that creativity would also result from a flurry of activity and engagement with coworkers? 

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