Archive for the ‘Becoming Professional’ category

Text Language

July 9, 2008

There was a very interesting article on Book Square not that long ago arguing that, contrary to the popular belief, text messaging and the abbreviations that come with it are nothing new and are not making the big waves that critics and pessimists would have you believe. It’s a long article, but there are several very interesting points it mentions.

First, it lays out the criticism.

Texters are “vandals who are doing to our language what Genghis Khan did to his neighbours 800 years ago. They are destroying it: pillaging our punctuation; savaging our sentences; raping our vocabulary. And they must be stopped.” and that “it is “bleak, bald, sad shorthand. Drab shrinktalk … Linguistically it’s all pig’s ear … it masks dyslexia, poor spelling and mental laziness. Texting is penmanship for illiterates.”

Then it refutes it, by showing the foundation our abbreviations and shortcuts actually reach back, in some cases, hundreds of years.

It even gives examples of text message poetry, including the winners of T-mobile’s text poetry contest.

One topic the article doesn’t broach, although it does mention it briefly is text etiquette. While abbreviations and txt msg short cuts have been around for a long time and are unlikely to bring an end to English as we know it, young professionals still have to be careful.

To emphasize this point, I’m going to recount a story Lindsey Pollak shared with my college graduating class when she came to our Backpack to Briefcase event last fall.

She says that she had been sending back and forth emails with a male colleague; they were close enough to be friendly, but was very upset when he sent here an email with the abbreviation “lol.” She knew what the abbreviation meant, because she signed her emails to family members that way, and she wasn’t sure how to react to this from a colleague. It was obviously inappropriate.

The problem here is that while Lindsey used “lol” to mean “lots of love,” her colleague was using it to mean “laugh out loud.” There are no real standards when it comes to these types of abbreviations; young professionals in particular need to be careful – you wouldn’t want that great contact you made at a conference last month thinking you were in love with him, when really you were just appreciating his joke.

So, although text abbreviations are not new, nor are they destroying the language, we do still need to be careful how often we abbreviate and in what context.

B2B Publishing

June 26, 2008

As I finish my first month working for a business to business magazine, I have some reflections to share.

First, for anyone who doesn’t know a business to business magazine is a magazine on the industry (in this case the pet industry) for other professionals. Pet Business is a magazine that is written for mom & pop pet stores – small independently owned stores. Our advertisers are manufacturers who sell products to the stores, so that the stores can sell them to the consumer. So the majority of our editorial falls into two categories: how to sell that merchandise to the consumer more effectively, and how to choose manufacturers more effectively.

As my first job in publishing, I expected to suddenly be overwhelmed with how much I didn’t know. That actually hasn’t happened too much. Most of the things I’ve found I know a reasonable amount about, and the things I don’t generally can be excused because they involve knowing the company well and knowing what we, specifically, do – which I will learn as I work here for extended periods of time.

Overall, things have gone fairly well. My first article will be published in the August issue (shipping end of July) and my first feature should go into the Grooming Supplement that is being included with the September issue. I’m looking forward to my first trade shows (Pet Fashion week in NYC end of August and Las Vegas in September).

After the September issue comes out I am going to start working on freelancing again. I have several ideas, and articles I was working on during the school year, and I need to start actively freelancing. So expect posts on that in the near future as I begin writing query emails.

Advertising yourself: resume and cover letter

April 1, 2008

Reading my textbook for the class I’m taking on Writing for the Media this week I realized how much writing a cover letter is really advertising for yourself. We were doing a section on ads, and had to write copy platforms – for a advertising campaign.

When you’re looking for a job, that becomes your advertising campaign. You are advertising yourself – so you should keep in mind all the things that ‘sell’ you. Basically, you should create a copy platform for yourself.

Unless you’ve studied marketing, that probably doesn’t help you much. So heres the break down:

A copy platform is, according to our text book, “a way of getting ideas and information of an advertising situation down on paper and of organizing those ideas in such a way that effective advertising copy can be produced from them.”

It is putting down on paper:

  • The Ad subject (You)
  • The Ad problem (getting you a job)
  • The product characteristics (in a few short bullet points, your best selling points with facts and details included – what you have to offer in a much shorter version then your resume)
  •  Ad objective (getting you a job),
  • Market (types of places you’re applying)
  •  Competition (things other people that are applying don’t have or are unlikely to have that you do – you’re advantage),
  • A statement of benefit or appeal (the one or 2 TOP points, things you are offering a potential employer)
  • Creative theme (come up with your own slogan or maing selling point)
  • Supportive selling points (again, selling points but put in a way that can is short and precise)

The entire piece should still be less then a page. I’ve attached one I did for myself as an example. I think that doing one of these before going in for an interview would help set in your mind exactly what you want to convey to the potential employer. You want to make sure all this information comes across clearly in your cover letter and that it is part of your (much broader ) resume. Then, when you sit down for an interview, you can hit all your points and ‘sell yourself’ to your interviewer. It will make you come across as confident and organized and, if you do a good job, they will be ‘sold’ on your product – yourself.

Copy Platform

Our text book is : Writing for the Mass Media by James Glen Stovall

Other Relevant Posts:
How To Write a Resume
How To Write a Cover Letter