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What are they talking about?

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Do you 'optimise' more than you'd like to think? Are you a regular 'utiliser'? Then it's time to kick the habit, says the late great Herschell Gordon Lewis.
What are they talking about?

This article is an excerpt from our free eBook: ‘Killer Copy in a Crisis’ featuring a collection of Herschell’s works. Highly recommended for anyone interested in learning from one of the industry’s titans.

Reading the ‘expert’ comments of self-appointed authorities is at best amusing . . . and at worst, confusing.

Here’s a key sentence from a by-lined article about web marketing, in a trade magazine:

‘With press release optimisation, brands can proactively utilise search to distribute their message.’

I can’t quarrel with that conclusion . . . because I can’t decipher it.

Long ago, I discarded ‘utilise’ from my rhetorical tool- kit because that word – along with, incidentally, ‘proactive’ – is a symptom of pomposity, just as a chronic cough is a symbol of having smoked too many cigarettes.

‘Optimisation’ is on the border, teetering, because in a usage such as the quotation quoted here, the word is used to define itself.

Ever hear of clarity, guys?

In the same publication (and this is current, not one from the year 1908 when all the current buzzwords and acronyms weren’t even in embryo) is this profundity:

‘You would utilise these long-tail or ‘fusion’ keywords to formulate a multifaceted search campaign across other channels at your disposal that include SEO, SMO and video SEO.’

OK, quickly: As fast as you can, verbally repeat ‘multifaceted search campaign’ three times. That’s a mild indicator. The word ‘utilise’ is another.

And you won’t have to dig around to find the acronyms, because I’ve checked them.

SEO means, as many know, search engine optimisation. SMO is the more arcane social media optimisation, and I admit cheerfully that even after looking this up I haven’t a clue what it means.

Maybe I’m too anti-social . . . the result of over-optimising.

Gee, I never knew that

One reason I remember so well a keynote speaker’s key notes – used to start the speech and also to end it – was this deep, thoughtful superficiality: “The past is gone. The present is here. The future is yet to come.”

Now, who can quarrel with that load of fresh guano?

I thought of it again when I read these words by another by-lined expert: ‘A sound search engine strategy comes down to optimising your content, managing it and knowing where to send it.’

No wonder this chap is an expert! He’s reduced the obvious to the trivial, not an easy task especially when leaning on that ‘optimising’ crutch.

May we take a mutual pledge, one that will do much to optimise our own BSO (b.s. optimisation)?
For one whole day, just one, eschew any version of ‘optimise’ from both conversation and written communication.

If you’re feeling especially noble or courageous, add ‘utilise’. Don’t worry about ‘proactive’ because if that has settled into your lexicon like a chronic cough, you’re too far gone to hope for expiation.

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Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay

Herschell Gordon Lewis
Author: Herschell Gordon Lewis

Herschell Gordon Lewis was an acclaimed direct marketer who published over thirty copywriting books including Hot Appeals or Burnt Offerings, Sales Letters That Sizzle, and Open Me Now. He also wrote and directed blood-thirsty 'splatter' movies which earned him a cult reputation around the world.

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