By Alan Graner
Everybody writes about how to gain readers, but nobody teaches you how to lose them.
Just follow these simple rules and you can drive your readership down to new levels. (Unfortunately, some people will like the “new” you and you may never be rid of them.)
Become a sesquepedalian
No, this isn’t some obscure cult. It means using long, unfamiliar words to show off your vocabulary and impress readers with your superior intellect.
Learn to toss of sentences such as “desultory reading hebetates the mind.”
With any luck you’ll attract a coterie of phrenic acolytes who will fawn upon your person.
Use industry jargon
Every industry has its own distinct jargon. It identifies you as “one of us.”
Any physicist knows what a muon or a Planck constant is. An economist should understand the Laffer Curve. You don’t have to define “backhaul” to an outdoor wi-fi installer. To explain these words to colleagues would be insulting.
The lay audience is another matter.
Industry jargon reeks of arcane wisdom, and throughout history “in” groups have maintained their superiority over “out” groups by invoking this secret knowledge.
In modern times no one does this better than the medical and legal professionals. (Just try reading one of their academic journals. You might as well try reading Sanskrit.)
Nothing proclaims you as an insider better than using industry acronyms. Strew them about as if they were popcorn.
Write sentences like “The PDG on the IRB delivers more XERBs than LBTs or MBTs.
Of course, no one but insiders will know what you’re writing, but that’s OK. The fact that readers have no idea what you’re saying pales in comparison with the street cred you’ll earn as an expert in your field (even if you’re not).
Acronyms have another valuable benefit: a single acronym can stand for many different things.
For example, if I say ATM, you automatically think of an automated teller machine that dispenses money.
But ATM can also mean asynchronous transfer mode; Adobe Type Manager; Association of Teachers of Mathematics; assembly, test and manufacturing…plus a lot more.
There are even online acronym finders that help you find the perfect one PDQ.
And for goodness sake, don’t tell your readers what the acronym means. That would spoil all the fun.
By following these simple steps you’ll lose all your capricious readers and end up with a hard core of adherents who will worship you like a cult leader.
Image: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr®
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA marketing communications firm. For a powerful PR campaign that makes you stand out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at email@example.com. Or visit www.dsprel.com.