At the ServInt Source, we try to keep up with two posts a week, one on something technical as part of The Tech Bench, and one on some other pertinent topic. Our litmus test for all posts is: do they have actionable intelligence? (i.e. are we giving the reader information that they can learn from and act on?) Some weeks are content rich. Other weeks, like this one, the works grind to a halt. Sometimes there are a lot of topics we are just not ready to take public, sometimes writers ask for deadline extensions because work takes time away from their writing. And sometimes… well, sometimes it’s a slow news cycle and we’re flat out of creative topics on which to opine. Today was one of those days.
The following is an actual transcript of a series of calls today between me: ServInt Source editor, Andrew Loschert, and my boss: Fritz Stolzenbach, VP of Marketing and Business Development.
Fritz: “Yeeeeeessss?” Fritz loves to answer the phone in his best Addams’ Family Lurch impersonation when I’m calling.
Andrew: “It’s me. You got a sec? You sounded pissed in your email.”
F: “Naw, it’s all good.” Yes, Fritz actually uses the phrase, It’s all good, with some regularity. No, he’s not 14. “I’ve just been trying to finalize some creative, and I keep getting interrupted.”
I pause here, wondering if I should just hang up and cut my losses. I ignore my better judgement.
A: “I’m up against a deadline for the blog and I still don’t have a story. You come up with anything?”
F: “Dude, I got nothin’.”
A: “You know, I was thinking about that. Hear me out on this one, okay? Why write something when we’ve got nothing to say? If we’re really trying to give out actionable intel, shouldn’t we just not write a post if there is no intel to impart?”
F: “So you want to skip the post for today?”
A: “No, hold on a sec. What if—instead of not posting—we write a post about how, since content is king in social media, then you shouldn’t write anything if you don’t have anything important to say? Sometimes the best advice is to do nothing.”
F: “Wait. So you want to write a post about how we probably shouldn’t have written a post because—because we have nothing to say?”
A: “Yes! I think it’s pretty interesting and is definitely a contrarian position in a world where most companies post nonstop no matter what’s going on.”
Fritz and I bounce ideas off each other all day. We’re each others’ BS sniff test, and he was about to call BS on me.
F: “Yeah, but you know what you’re doing? It’s like a high schooler who doesn’t want to write an essay so he writes an essay about how he doesn’t want to write an essay to try to be clever while spiting his teacher.”
A: “Aw man, no you didn’t!” That one stung.
F: “Yes, I did.”
I pressed on, convinced this post had legs.
A: “No really, I think it’s good marketing advice that we can share: don’t post content if you got no content.”
F: “I’m not picking up what you’re layin’ down.” Another favorite Fritz-ism.
A: “I’m just saying that I think we can spin it into actionable intel.”
There was a moment of silence. When Fritz finally replied, his tone had changed.
F: “You know, if you really want to post this… if you really want to post this, the only way you could do it is if you printed a transcript of this conversation.”
A: “You mean, write about how we talked about writing a post about not writing meaningless content in a post?”
F: “Yeah!” Now Fritz was excited. I was a little worried, but heck, he’s the boss. He’s come up with weirder ideas, believe me. “It’d be like a meta meta meta description of what we’re talking about. A kind of surreal, ironic tribute to all the ghost-written C-level executive blogs that clog the Internet with meaningless crap about what they had for breakfast and how it reminded them of their upcoming product launch.”
A: “I got it.” There was a teaching lesson here. I could almost see it.
F: “But wait! To do it right, you’d have to put this all in. Every bit, including the stuff about the irony, and the meta meta meta… meta description. And of course, you’ll have to revisit it tomorrow with a fresh set of eyes, to make sure it wasn’t the most idiotic thing we’ve ever posted on our blog.”
A: “Ok, let me send you something. You’ll see it soon.”
Typed and sent…
A: “How’s that look?”
F: “It looks pretty good. Doesn’t say anything, but I guess that’s sort of the point.”
A: “I love it.”
F: “Yeah, I’ll bet. Oh, and it’s not ‘meta description.’ That’s web speak. It’s ‘meta conversation’.”
A: “Oh yeah.”
F: “And there should be a period after ‘actionable intel.’ Intel. is an abbreviation.
A: “Good catch.”
F: “Make sure you put that in there, too. The bit about the abbreviation.”
F: “We have to saturate this post with meaningless detail for it to attain the full flower of ironic irrelevance.”
A: “OK, you’re the boss.”