The surprising news about good news

I got an email from my son the other day singing the praises of a gaming website he subscribes to. Why? They’d begun writing their policies in plain English. ‘I know it’s just a games site but I was impressed — both at how they got the message across and their summaries! As a marketing technique, it also made me go to their site (and I might have just spent some money)!’

Josh’s email got me thinking. He didn’t bother telling the website owners that he was impressed — but he immediately gave them his money. And then he told me how impressed he was, and a couple of others. And I told a few other people. And now I’m telling you.

This phenomenon isn’t unique. From our work in the field of plain language for over 25 years, we know that people appreciate a business that earnestly tries to communicate with them in an honest, helpful way. The business gets brownie points (whether they know it or not) and the happy customer tells others.

So when you are beavering away on your plain English transformations, take heart: your efforts are making a difference!

And the surprising point about good news? I did a fast Google search today into the way good news spreads. Apparently good news travels faster than bad news! Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania studied the New York Times list of most-emailed articles, checking it every 15 minutes for more than 6 months. They found that people preferred emailing articles with positive rather than negative themes. Help your readers and clients spread the good news about your plain language efforts by talking about them. The grapevine will take care of the rest.

Good news