We’re writing an ongoing series of technical content for a software client. The content marketing 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, but it seemed that things were going well.
Engineers do not suffer fluff gladly
But in a meeting the other day, the director of engineering had news for the writer. “Hope we don’t bruise your ego,” she said, “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 you show me the fluff in question, I’ll avoid it in future articles.” The director of engineering did not give specifics.
Later, I reviewed every word the writer has put out on this project, and I couldn’t see the fluff. Granted, it’s technology marketing content, so you need some persuasiveness among the ones and zeroes. But I couldn’t find the words I consider fluff, like “thrilled,” “excited,” “leveraging” and “today’s technology landscape is evolving faster than ever.” That, to me, is 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.
Technical content and fluff don’t mix
The technical content is destined for a website 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. 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?
photo credit: Thomas Ricker