The Devil’s in The Details

Earlier this year, Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell free-climbed the Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park after a final push that lasted a solid 19 days. It was rad to watch. They are both amazing and climbed the 32-pitch big-wall route like the pros they are. During this 19-day battle, the mainstream media ramped up their coverage of the momentous event – which was cool. What many found less than cool, were the inaccuracies in the coverage – many messages being cringe-inducing and laughable because journalists fumbled details about climbing. Here are three of my favorite crazy Dawn Wall quotes from media:

“Two Men Are Attempting The Hardest Rock Climb in the World using only their hands and feet.” -Buzzfeed

Disembodied hands and feet are definitely interesting but do not quite capture the story. Reading the headline aloud and visualizing what the words are saying could help avoid this error.

“Two thrill seekers in Yosemite National Park are trying to tackle one of the toughest climbs in the world.” -CBS News

Knowing the culture of rock climbing better could help avoid this error – pro climbers are not thrill seeking adrenaline junkies, they are athletes and explorers. Don’t annoy the content subjects and dilute your message by calling them something they are not.

“Apart from the ropes that they bolt to the rock as they go, and their smartphones, they are alone.” -Independent UK

Two errors crammed into one sentence here – bolting rope to rock is a bad idea and Tommy and Kevin were never alone as they had a film crew documenting every moment. Simply having someone who climbs read the article before it publishes could help avoid this error.

Marketers are definitely not insulated from stumbling on details. If we don’t safeguard against errors, working at breakneck speeds with fast-approaching deadlines can reduce the level to which messages are scrutinized before the trigger is pulled. The solution for problems like ones that journalists made while covering the Dawn Wall event, and for mistakes that marketing folk can make while creating messages for clients, is pretty straightforward…

1. Be inquisitive and ask a lot of questions
2. Research diligently
3. Proof images and copy, and then proof again – read copy aloud
4. If the subject is complex, outside of your wheelhouse or native language, have a target audience insider review messages