Everywhere You Go: Fluff

This post was written by John White on Thu, 09 Oct 2008 16:32:50 +0000
Posted Under: fluff,relationship with engineering

We have an ongoing series of news articles for a technology client, and the writer is in this for the long haul. He even signed a one-year contract.

He knows the client and the client knows him, and it’s a good fit. It has taken longer than anticipated to crank out the articles – mostly because of client-side review loops – but it seemed that it was going well.

In a meeting the other day, the chief engineer told the writer, “Hope we don’t bruise your ego, but we’re going to edit your articles to remove a lot of the fluff that’s in them.” The writer took it in stride, saying, “If somebody will show me the fluff in question, I’ll be sure to avoid it in future articles.” Further discussion was not on the engineer’s agenda, and he moved to another topic.

I’ve reviewed every word the writer has put out, and I don’t see the fluff. Granted, at its core it’s technology marketing content, and you need some persuasiveness and upside among the one’s and zero’s, but I don’t see fluff.

My favorite journalist, Robin MacNeil of the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, once described the quiet popularity of the show by saying, “People are tired of having TV journalists throw confetti at them for a half-hour each night. We don’t do that.” I keep that in mind when I think of fluff: Don’t throw confetti at your reader, persuade him intelligently. I think the writer has been doing this.

Somebody on the review cycle disagreed, I guess.

The articles are destined for a Web site that will be launched shortly. I had a look at pages written by other people – the ones who, I think, are crying fluff – and found…well, I’d call it confetti at worst and imperfect writing at best, but now I’m not thinking objectively. In four paragraphs I found ten instances of “ecosystem” and multiple instances of sentences that don’t really add up to much meaning.

Do you have to deal with allegations of fluff in your organization? How do you do it? Do you stick up for the writer or the fluff-crier?

Comments are closed.