How Not to Sound Like a Jerk on Your Company Website

At The Hired Pens, a good chunk of our work comes from design, interactive and advertising agencies. They call on us when their internal team can’t handle a project due to scope or subject. Or they don’t actually have copywriters on staff, so we serve as their go-to copywriting agency.

We’re happy to oblige. And since we now have an employee, I have more time to find agencies and companies that should be working with us, but aren’t (yet).

This means I spend a lot of time on their sites trying to get a sense of what they do and whether we’d be a good fit. I pay particular attention to the “Meet Our Team” type pages. When companies get it right, they showcase their employee’s personalities and talents in an original, engaging way. I like them before I even meet them. And when companies get it wrong … Oh, boy.

You sound like a jerk if you …

1) Name-drop your Ivy League education in the very first sentence. Yes, I do think you’re smart: A big, stupid, smarty-pants jerk I wouldn’t want to work with because you’d probably correct me in an annoying way about ending a sentence with a preposition even though I was doing it on purpose.

2) Overuse the word “passion” — unless your company is Harlequin Romance, in which case at least try to find a synonym. (Credit: Dave Pye)

3) Run a creative agency that is within walking distance of FIVE amazing independent coffee shops and you list “STARBUCKS” as your favorite coffee shop. Okay, maybe this doesn’t make me think you’re a jerk so much as not very creative.

4) Use the phrase “serial entrepreneur.” This is code for “unemployed for a long time.” (Credit: Brian Curry Hartmann)

5) Use a ton of multisyllabic words. Making others feel stupid is not a smart move. (Credit: Rich Nadworny)

6) You use the term “visionary thinker,” “industry pioneer” or “change agent,” to describe yourself or anyone else on your team. On the off chance it’s true … oh, come on, it’s never really true. (Credit: Melanie DeCarolis)

7) You use “leverage” as a verb, “our DNA” figuratively. (Credit: Helen Fairman)

I’m sure there are others, so please comment with your own ideas! And in the meantime, here are a few companies that really get it right: King Fish Media, Corey McPherson Nash and The Hired Pens. Oh, that kind of makes us sound like a jerk to call out ourselves, doesn’t it?

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2 replies
  1. Dave Pye says:

    Thanks for the shout out. I’m truly passionate about leveraging low-hanging synergies outside of the vertical fruit box – and I think this will be helpful for your audience.

    • Anna Goldsmith says:

      Dave, yes. You are always a great resource for world class, best practices for a value-added win-wins. It’s not mission critical, but would enjoy some face time when you’re in town next. We’re always on the same page and you really can see the helicopter view like nobody’s business. 

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