When you reflect on the highway billboards of yesteryear and brand slogans that have made an impression on you, they were probably succinct, clever and written in the active voice. Clear, concise writing is absolutely crucial in a brand’s marketing efforts. When a message or campaign gets muddled with lengthy explanations and awkward sentence constructions, the small window of opportunity to quickly convey both meaning and value is lost. One of the simplest issues to address during content revisions is passive voice construction.
Sometimes all it takes is a bit of creativity and humor to mitigate an issues management headache. Case in point, recently the University of Southern California unveiled a $700 million project in the heart of Los Angeles. Students from rival University of California at Los Angeles were quick to point out that a statue serving as the centerpiece of the development misspelled the name of “William Shakespeare” by leaving out the last “e” in the bard’s name.
The Tweet that followed: “USC. The only place in America that can unveil a statue as the centerpiece of a $700 million project and manage to misspell Shakespeare.”
Not taking the bait and issuing a stodgy response, USC issued the following statement:
“To E, or not to E, that is the question. Over the centuries his surname has been spelled 20 different ways. USC chose an older spelling because of the ancient feel of the statue, even though it is not the most common form.”
And with that response, the Twittersphere has been weighing in on the debates, with scholars pointing out USC might have a point. Even in his last will and testament, Shakespeare spelled his name two ways (both with an “e” and without an “e”). Also, printed programs from 1664, spelled the name without an “e.”
The Washington Post even had fun with the issue, saying visitors to the University of Southern California might be muttering, “What fools these mortals be,” as they stroll past a statue of the legendary queen of Troy and notice William Shakespeare’s name seemingly misspelled at the base. “To USC officials, it’s much ado about nothing.”
(GroundFloor Media’s Gil Rudawsky is a proud graduate of the University of Southern California.)
When it comes to media, who do you trust? If you are like most people, you trust local media more than national media. Local media are perceived to be less biased than national media, and to have less of an agenda.
And the proof is in the ratings. A recent Poynter Institute analysis finds that Americans overwhelmingly view local TV news rather than their cable TV counterparts. Media writer James Warren used Chicago as a benchmark and found:
“The power and potency of local news endures, perhaps all the more so in a fragmented digital age. It’s a reality generally missed by media reporters.”
The general public’s reaction to media is analogous to how they perceive politicians. We all hate “Congress,” but we choose to continue to re-elect our own congressional representatives because we believe that our local representatives are somehow different. And that is the power of local.