Don’t Roll the Dice on Good Copy

I was thinking about good copy the other day as I drove into Las Vegas. I know that’s not what people are normally thinking about as they head into Sin City, but I’d been carsick on the way in and my mind wandered to odd things.

Anyhow, I was taken with how well written most of the ad copy is in Las Vegas. With short words and even shorter sentences, the writers craft compelling and enticing copy that’s designed to piqué your interest. And it usually succeeds.

I was there on business, though, or rather family business. My daughter was in a cheerleading finals competition and we spent much of our time at the convention center cheering on the various cheerleading squads.

It was here I noted that not all copy is good copy. The handwritten menu board at the convention center spelled ‘bagels’ wrong, and some of the graphics on the overhead video screen had misspelled words, incorrect punctuation usage, and improper word usage.

But the thing that struck me the most was the wording on the T-shirt I bought for my daughter. It simply says “U.S. Finals” on the front and on the back it says “The Final Destination”.

It’s so vitally important that our writing is not only smooth and cogent, but that it also says what it needs to say. Good writing, especially writing that is designed to sell something, advertise something, or highlight something, should be clear, concise, to the point, and unwavering in its message. Sure, “The Final Destination” is concise, but what is it about? What does it tell us?

It tells me that sometimes the need for a writer isn’t obvious, but it’s there. Underneath the layers of poor writing, bad word usage and questionable spelling, what’s missing from so much copy these days is a good writer.

What should the T shirt have said? How about “U.S. Finals” on the front and “Las Vegas … Where Cheerleading Takes its Final Stand” on the back? Or “Bring it on! Cheerleading Finals 2010.”

Small things make a difference.

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