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An Ode to Wordsmiths
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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We enjoy knowing that sometimes it is not what is being said that is the important thing, but how it is being said. It is incredible to see that words have so much impact on how consumers perceive certain topics.

For example: While we were in college, we were a member of an organization that helped to build community amongst the living areas around campus. We were instructed that the places that our students lived were not "dormitories" but "residence halls." The different parts of the campus were not simply buildings, but designated "areas."

The goal was to make sure that the first-year experience for the school was a good one. Our alma mater had research that proved that using that kind of language improved the community, and a good community usually keeps its members.

Additional research in living communities and marketing supports this.

Ball State University released a study showing that the media could improve the image of apartment communities by changing the words it uses.

Yes, using terms like "community" instead of "complex" and "resident" instead of "tenant" can help the apartment company look more like a nice place to live than a place on the brink of being a slum.

Wordsmiths are needed more than ever, especially as this delightful tide of political correctness continues to cross our commercial landscape.

Wordsmiths can turn positive news into glass-shattering interest and negative news into better-than-we-thought information — or they may use words that would make us look over the bad to embrace the good.

Thank you, wordsmiths, and those who study their work.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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