FAWTSY — maybe acronyms aren’t all bad

One of the first things I noticed on stepping into Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, wasn’t the very impressive ballpark. It was a button on the ticket-taker’s shirt.

FAWTSY — funny word, great concept

An acronym. I hate acronyms—usually. I hate them because they’re confusing. Because they break the flow of your writing, as readers search for their secret agent decoder rings to translate your alphabet soup into usable English. I had to see the button a few times before I could read the translation—the button I saw on Sunday was a newer design, with smaller explanatory type.

So, yes, if I came across it while reading, “FAWTSY” would confuse me. Or at the very least make me stop thinking about the ideas the writer intended to present. But that brief cognitive interruption is exactly what makes this acronym a valuable marketing tool.

FAWTSY — Find a Way to Say Yes.

“Find a Way to Say Yes” is a great commitment to have your public-facing employees make. And a fantastic promise to your customers. If United Airlines employees had been held to the FAWTSY standard, the company would have avoided several recent public relations disasters. Not to mention a meltdown in their market capitalization.

FAWTSY, coined by the club’s former SVP of Communications and curgent CEO, Derrick Hall, has alowed the Diamondbacks to put their commitment to customers and other stakeholders front and center. But would it work in a speech?

I think you’d need the right audience—and the right speaker. Someone who could commit to the joke of making a nonsense word the centerpiece of their speech. And someone equally committed to the business message behind the “nonsense word.”

And it couldn’t be a one-off. You’d need to commit to this word for at least several months, rolling it out several times in speeches to diverse groups of stakeholders. You’d need some collateral, too—buttons, tennis balls, posters—whatever made sense for the company and the message.

If the message is important enough, and the company committed enough to it, then I would FAWTSY to a request to write a speech centered on an acronym. Now I wish someone would ask me: It sounds like fun.


Also published on Medium.

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