Author: Iza Grek

Debug your grammar gremlin

Time will get you there

In my job, as sub-editor at a community newspaper, I had to reprimand a reporter for shoddy work.

His report was submitted for subbing with several repeated paragraphs. When I pointed this out to him, he swore it was a systems error.

This was highly unlikely and even if it was, he should have made the necessary corrections to the piece before sending it on for subbing.

Trends for 2021 and beyond

Africa rising
Kids in Africa enjoying their freedom

With the year, two and a bit months underway, there’s been enough time to reflect on trends that will shape the decade ahead. I’ve put my thoughts together and come up with these six.

  • Moocs

A search for Moocs returns almost 35 billion responses in under seven seconds on Google. That many. There are possibly as many Moocs as there are searches for them. We are talking about Massive Open Online Course. There are no barriers to entry (free) for these courses and there are thousands.

A stonking good word

A stonking good wordEvery now and then, a word comes a long that makes me prick up my ears and say, ‘that’s a good one’.

Stonking is such a word.

There’s so much to say about stonking. For starters dictionaries across the web from Cambridge to Oxford and Encarta broadly agree on its adjectival usage to mean “large, impressive, used to emphasise how good or enjoyable something is.”

Groundhog Day: origin of idioms

Groundhog idiom
Groundhog tests the weather

From Ricky Gervais’ production of “Afterlife” (Netflix) to a number of recent articles in the press, the term groundhog day, seems to be popping up everywhere. Not sure what it meant, I set out to investigate.

Content marketing needs to be part of your marketing strategy

content marketing strategy

Here’s why.

It’s all about the traffic

Content marketing helps businesses prepare and plan for reliable and cost-effective sources of website traffic and new leads. If you can create just one blog post that gets a steady amount of organic traffic, an embedded link to an e-book or free tool, it will continue generating leads for you as time goes. This makes your content sustainable.

Good content has great leverage. Not only does it attract leads — it will also help educate your target prospects and generate awareness for your brand.


How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy


Like skinning a cat, there is more than one way to develop a content marketing strategy.  Here is a plan to use as a guide.

  1. 1. Define your goal.

Get specific about your intention. Why do you want to produce content and create a content marketing plan? Know your goals before you begin planning, and it will be easier to come up with a workable strategy.

  1. Research is a must.

While research seems to be the heavy lifting part of the job, there’s no way around it; it’s just got to be done.

And you want to stay relevant. The more relevant your posts are, the better your engagement.

Understand your audience. You can do this by aggregating basic demographic profiles and then fine tuning with more specific information, such as shopping habits, or entertainment profiles.

By knowing your target audience, you can produce more relevant and valuable content that they’ll want to read and engage with.

If you’re an experienced marketer, your target may have changed. Do you want to target a new group of people or expand your current target market? Do you want to keep the same target audience?

Revisiting your audience parameters by conducting market research is crucial to growing your audience.

  1. Conduct a content audit

Most people start out with blog posts, but if you want to venture out and try producing other content pieces, consider which ones you want to make.

For instance, if you’ve been doing weekly blog posts for the past year, creating an e-book that contains all your blog posts in one handy guide would be one way to offer information in a different format.

If you have been in business for a while, you may want to review yout content marketing efforts and the results from it in the last year by running a content audit. Figure out what you can do differently in 2021 and set new goals. Now is a great time to align marketing goals with those of other departments.

  1. 4. Choose a content management system.

Have a system in place where you can create, manage, and track your content, using a content management system (CMS) for greater effeciency. A few vital parts of content management include content creation, content publication, and content analytics.

You can use Google to find the best CMS – many are free and certainly adequate if you are just starting out.

  1. Brainstorm content ideas.

As the year winds down, there couldn’t be a better time to start coming up with ideas for your next content project.

You can brainstorm in-house or take it to your client. No one knows your clients’ business better than they do, so schedule time for a brainstorming session.

  1. Decide which types of content you want to create.

There are a variety of options for content creation in the digital age. These include blog posts, eBooks, infographics, white papers, videos, podcasts and case studies. This may need to coincide with the resources available to the organisation.

Consumers want to see, literally, what brands are up to. Videos of activations as social media posts and images, texts to explain product benefits – these are all ways to engage and interact with a customer base.

They particularly want to see real-time and experience-oriented content instead of fabricated make-believe stories – this has been the route of advertising for the past five years.

  1. Publish and manage your content.

Your marketing plan should go beyond the types of content you’ll create — it should also cover how you’ll organise your content. With the help of an editorial calendar you’ll be on the right track for publishing a well-balanced and diverse content library on your website. This is gold for future access.

Look for spin-off opportunities such as news items, events created by media and calendar favourites, like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day etc.

Content is king

Content strategy




A new take on money laundering

Imagine money on the laundry line

Last week while editing an academic text, my hawkish eyes fell upon the phrase money laundry. The esteemed professor had made a typographical error. I smiled quietly to myself as images of ‘money laundry’ flooded my imagination.

Is there a smoking gun in the Zondo Commission? idiom origin


Smoking gun as only evidence of crime


While the Zondo Commission takes a deep dive into state capture, many South Africans may hope it finds the “smoking gun”. And if you are South African you will know exactly what I am talking about. If not,  you probably have your own corporate/political scandal to apply it to.

Let’s look at how “smoking gun” has evolved.

Merriam Webster describes smoking gun as “something that serves as conclusive evidence or proof (as of a crime or scientific theory)

The Urban Dictionary offers: “it means the endpoint or last source of hard, solid evidence involved in a case or investigation and the British dictionary simple states: it is “information that proves who committed a crime”.

And, the Urban Dictionary,  using it in a sentence says: the tape recordings (substitute emails for the 21st century) provided prosecutors with the smoking gun they needed to prove he’d been involved in the conspiracy.

Scene in a saloon 

I love the expression smoking gun. Like other idioms, it has a magnificent visual quality. I can picture a pair of huge saloon doors swinging as the swashbuckling sheriff storms through in a torrid rage only to find the smoking gun and no human in sight. I can just about hear the signature tune of Bonanza as the image comes to mind.

But the idiom has less auspicious (or more, depending on how you see it) origins.


According to a forum on “The first instance that Google Books finds of ‘smoking gun’ in the sense of “irrefutable proof of guilt” appears in the context of the Watergate scandal of 1973–1974.

The phrase “a smoking gun” or “the smoking gun” appears at least six times in Facts on File, Editorials on File, volume 5, part 2 (for the year 1974). And the earliest of these appears in an editorial from the [Cleveland, Ohio] Plain Dealer, (July 11, 1974).f”

Smoke signals

English for elaborates: “This phrase draws on the assumption, a staple of detective fiction, that the person found with a recently fired gun must be the guilty party.

“The use of the phrase in the late 20th century was particularly associated with the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s involving the US President Richard Nixon. When one of the Watergate tapes revealed Nixon’s wish to limit the FBI’s role in the investigation, Barber B. Conable famously commented: I guess we have found the smoking pistol, haven’t we?”

Before Google

Many experts agree that the Nixon controversy was one of the earliest uses of ‘smoking gun’ but predating Google Books, other sources go as far back as the 18th century as a record of the idioms early usage.

In other research, I learnt that ‘smoking gun’ is considered more convincing as incontrovertible evidence than ‘blood on your hands’ because the former demonstrates recent usage, while the latter could occur by touching the victim after death, which is not as conclusive as the smoking gun.

I’m not sure I agree, (unless the smoking gun is in the perpetrator’s hands) but there you have it.
Comments welcome.

How to keep your powder dry in the 21st century. Idioms from the military

On the horns of a dilemma: origin of idioms

How to alternate the alternative: Grammar

pi by Christiann KeopkeAs with much of the English language the correct use of this pair of words has slipped into misuse, and in some very unfortunate circumstances, accepted as the norm, or worse correct.

Not my circus, not my monkeys. Idiom usage

Idioms from other languages
Are these your monkeys?

Not my circus. Not my monkeys. I did a double take. I was having coffee with my Irish friend Paul and he was throwing this phrase around throughout our conversation. He was clearly trying to make a point.

Black swan, a label for COVID-19

Black swan as a metaphor for unprecedented events

In much of my research for clients in the past couple of months I have often seen the term black swan. As I know swans to be white in most cases, I was intrigued by this phrase suddenly popping up all over the place.

The term black swan has come to be associated with COVID-19 and its various impacts.