Remaining relevant even applies to the FBI: language barrier affects sleuthing With the rise in cybercrime, the FBI has a new problem on its hands trying to nab cyberstalkers who prey on young people. Teens in particular are increasingly turning to Internet chat rooms to make new friends. And while they're there, they speak a language that's completely foreign to most people under the age of 20. To keep up, agents have had to learn what teens talk about and how they go about expressing themselves. Three years ago, the agency began hiring teenagers to teach them how to successfully impersonate teenagers online. Agents have been taking lessons in teen culture by learning their basic chat language, what songs they listen to, what actors they like, and other cultural influences so they can understand some of the cryptic language seen in chat rooms. For instance, most agents failed the test when asked what POS means. (If you're over 30, chances are you assumed it meant Piece of S---, a way to refer to a junker car or unreliable electronic equipment. Turns out it also means Parent Over Shoulder). BTW, if there's a POS, teens advise their friends to CTC. (Translation: By the way, one of my parents is watching me right now, so call to cell so we can talk.) I wonder if the teens who are teaching these agents are also letting them know to add the word "like" and "so" as frequently as possible. (Can you tell I have two teen girls who are so, like, frustrating to listen to sometimes?) The FBI declares the program on teenspeak has make a tremendous difference in agents' ability to catch cunning criminals. It makes perfect sense, doesn't it? When in Rome and all that jazz. This is the essence of the D in SPUD - Dynamic. Being dynamic requires constant change, which, when done properly, results in remaining relevant. How about you? Do you regularly re-evaluate the language you use in your marketing materials, your sales slicks and your PowerPoint presentations? Remaining relevant applies as much to how we say things as much as what we say. Consider the age group you market to. If it includes younger people, perhaps you would benefit from conducting a focus group or paying people from that age group to review your materials for suggestions. Last year, when I did a guest lecture for a marketing class at GA Tech, I was a nervous wreck. I knew I knew my stuff, but I sweated bullets over whether I might inadvertently express myself in a way that demonstrated how decidedly un-hip I really am. Luckly, my own college student daughter came to the rescue. "Just say like and so a lot, Mom. They'll get it." I did. And it was so, like, you know, awesome.


At July 19, 2005 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if presenting your suggestions to the marketing class on the flip side of a handout that had
this the other might of helped?


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