Is Efficiency Killing Creativity?

John Carlton’s visiting Australia.  [John Carlton of the “Who’s Who” of great copywriters]

OK, that’s cool. 

He’s doing more than that, though.  While he’s there, he’s speaking… and he’s reading their newspapers. 

You know… what we used to have a lot more of… here… in the States.  In his blog,  John  concludes that the US newspapers’ “efficiencies”  are the culprits of  their demise.

Over the last 2 decades, he says  “efficiency” raised its ugly head, and savvy [newspaper] moguls realized they could outsource and deliver the “news” from central locations… and stop paying writers a living wage.  So, instead of a full staff in towns like Reno, where I live, we’ve got a skeleton crew slapping together prepackaged issues that have been designed to offend the least number of folks, while efficiently delivering a “product” to wrap around the advertising.”

John thinks Australia is more likely to keep their newspapers, rather than self-destructing as they are here.  He likes their writers;  thinks they’re bold and brassy:

   ” It’s the writing. ..  The Aussies show craft with their writing.  They are brash, bold and fearless about challenging conventional wisdom, and speaking their minds (usually after spending at least a little time getting their facts straight).” 

He also says US newspapers did it to themselves.  “Like GMs grisly demise, this did not have to happen.  The Web isn’t killing newspapers.  Newspapers are killing newspapers.  With sheer incompetence.

All of this may sound pretty gloom and doom. As you read further,though, a more optimistic tone emerges.  Whether we’re getting our information through the Web  or [for the moment] from a real newspaper, he reminds us it’s all still about the “power of the pen.”  And he concludes:

The folks who know how to write are dominating the conversations going on right now, in every part of your life.  They’re scripting the movie we’re all living out, and if you want to have a say, you’ll need to get your chops sharpened.”

Reading this blog post really got me thinking about the huge opportunity there is for writers…from the US, Australia, and every other country…  who are ready, willing and able to do something more than make generic wrappers. 

Even if newspapers have hit their demise…

The Web is alive….

What an opportunity… and responsibility… there is, for writers of all kinds.  

Information consumption is increasing exponentially at an unimaginable…even perhaps unquantifiable…  rate through the world.   Filling the “need to know” vacuum is the writer’s opportunity.  Doing so responsibly is both your mission and obligation.

As writers, we’re responsible for overall concept and presentation.  You want to be the kind of writer who will find out what the customer’s needs, wants, and interests are.  Regardless  of whether they’re a news or information customer, or a service or product prospect.  You want to hone a message  that will  feed the desire that brought the reader to the question they want answered…wherever they look.

Think of your project as a before and after. Writing your own material, [by the way, just so you know… I’m not in favor of outsourcing your writing if you’re a writer]  really reviewing the research before you publish, [even if you outsource your research work] and saturating your mind with ideas on presentation is the before of writing.  Honing the material into real communication… wielding mightily the “power of the pen” to create the scene into which the reader jumps… is the after

Your perspective of the facts [who/what/why/where/when/how]  is what you have to offer.  Your value proposition is in your slant… reaching out to someone else who shares… or wants to share… your journey. 

In the Seven Deadly Writers’ Sins #2, we talked about Laziness… and not succumbing to it.   Dig hard for and verify your facts… flesh out the substance of your topic.  Communicating instead of just writing….  not taking the lazy way out with a plain wrapper,  boiler plate message.    There are a lot of ‘templates’ in copywriting, and formats and formulas in all writing.  Good writing, however, still isn’t generic, and is seldom  “politically correct”.  

This is a new era, with a new medium… the Web… and it is much easier to resist the Corporate “efficiencies” that have not only killed some of the companies that created them; but also dulled or killed some of the best creative minds in the world.  Some of the remaining companies may learn.  Some we may be able to help.

Or… we may just choose to be entrepreneurs… picking and choosing clients whose interests most closely align with ours.

So… Are you ready to “sharpen your chops?”

You don’t have to be an Aussie to be “brash, bold and fearless.”   As writers …and by the way… that persona exists in all of us.. we can all hone our skills…”sharpen our chops”… and have a say in this lifetime movie we’re creating.

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