As a content writer for business executives and B2B professional services firms, I never thought I'd be writing about Weird Al Yankovic. I grew up with Weird Al. My cousin introduced me to Dr. Demento when I was just a little bit of a thing. And Dr. Demento introduced me to Weird Al. Another One Rides the Bus, a parody of Queen's hit, Another One Bites the Dust, was an important part of my musical education. It was immediate and relevant and it added to the mystique of riding the bus to school.
Today, to promote the release of his 14th album, Mandatory Fun, Weird Al released Word Crimes, a brilliant parody of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines. In almost no time at all, this song has become a rallying cry for writers. And if you've ever cringed at someone's failure to use capitalization and punctuation in an email, or the non-word gibberish that often passes for conversation in a text message, this song is for you.
The Top Three Word Crimes
As a parodist, there is no question that Weird Al has a way with words. To make his songs work, he has to choose each word carefully. It has to have the right cadence, the right meaning, and the right number of syllables to fit into the structure of the song. So, it comes as no surprise that he is a lover of the English language. Below are three of his top word crimes:
While the song is a fun way to get a few tips about grammar, even those us who have taken this on as our theme song are not off the hook. Weird Al also pokes a little fun of word nerds and grammar geeks.
He flatly refuses to take a stand for or against the Oxford comma.
The great Oxford comma debate gets pretty heated in certain circles. I believe that the Oxford comma should only be used when necessary to clarify the meaning of a sentence. But Weird Al doesn't join the debate. In fact, he dismisses it as drama and is just fine with folks like me leaving out that Oxford comma!
Your Words Are Your Brand
The truth is that we all write, and most of us write every day. It isn't just about social media and blog posts. The emails and proposals you send to your clients help them to form an impression of you. Your writing matters. It helps your prospective clients get a sense of who you are. The words you choose and the way you craft a sentence can make you look smart, savvy, capable, trustworthy and, more simply, nice. But if you don't care about the words you choose, you risk coming across as unintelligent, incapable, foolish and boring. Your words are your brand. Choose them carefully.
Weird Al's Content Marketing Advice
If you're struggling with content marketing, and this whole Word Crime phenomenon makes you anxious, there is one other option. Let me pass on a few final words of wisdom from the great Weird Al Yankovic:
Well you should hire
This week, set aside an hour to take a close look at your written communications. If this is overwhelming, start with just one page on your website. Does your writing evoke the feeling you want your clients to have? Could you use a little help editing the copy or do you just need to set aside a little time to do it yourself? Have a friend read the page and tell you their impressions of your business. Is their impression of your brand what you are hoping to convey? Share your questions, insights and observations in the comments. I'd love to hear from you!