One of the common debates in technical communication is how much the profession is art or science. Can we take an engineering-like approach to assisting users, using tools like DITA, or does each requirement need a bespoke, hand-crafted solution? Can we quantify, using analytics and other means, the effect of technical communication, or do we just have to hope and guess it’s being useful?
There’s been a similar debate in advertising. Indeed, there is the famous quotation, attributed to various people, along the lines of:
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
One organisation believes it has cracked this puzzle. On Wednesday, The Saatchi Institute announced a formula describing the correlation between the investments in the art and science of a brand and their financial impact. The new formula has been developed in conjunction with the London Business School, and is based on academic research conducted in partnership with Unilever and Nielsen Research.
Although the formula is presented as a way to predict cause and effect in advertising, and justify advertising budgets, could it be applicable to other forms of communication, such as that created by Technical Authors? We won’t know for a few weeks. According to a press release by M&C Saatchi, the new formula will be explained in detail by Lord Saatchi, Tim Duffy and special guests at a London Business School event on 3 July.