Scented Advertising

Yesterday morning there was a strong smell at home, the one of a deodorant or perfume. But confusing it was as it was a new smell and source was not easily identifiable. The extra sensitive one at our home kept looking around and was very curious to find out from whom the smell emanated, as her olfactory system was getting irritated by the strong smell. It was discovered only a little later that the source was the days's NEWSPAPER. 

This is called as Scented Print Advertising. Emami has launched a new brand of men's deodorant and the advertising for it in the paper was creating all this odor. They have employed a technique to have the strong scent to be applied on to the paper where the advertising is present. I assume either the perfume particles were mixed with the ink or the paper was sprayed and then printed. Whatever! Bad Idea! Whenever one opened the paper, the room was filled with the strong smell and the reader is forced to close it. The smell goes high up ones nose and irritates. I hardly could stand the smell and didn't read the paper yesterday. 

Back in the earlier days, we had another method of advertising, where a swatch or hard paper piece is added to the paper. One must scratch or rub fingers over it to get the smell. That was better. 

The brand has even gone ahead and create a rather not-so-good video - #ShowMenSomeLove. For what? It was International Men's Day yesterday, it seems.. ha ha. It was news to me and I got the video as a forwarded message yesterday night. Well, I couldn't force myself to watch it after the initial few seconds.

And for the paper, we kept it outside the house as we kept getting a whiff of the odor every now and then. 

If there are people who really loved the advertising strategy and video theme, no offense meant!

Technical Communication

A brief overview of Technical Communication as I am often asked what is it that I do.

Early Days of My Career 

I have been a Technical Communicator (Technical Writer) for over 8 years now. My career began at SunTec Business Solutions, located at Trivandrum. We were a small team and people often asked what we do. We would reply that we develop the Help documentation for the products you develop. It was easier to make understand at work. But back at home, which is at a rural place, and people are still not very familiar of the great advancements of technology, I had a difficult time explaining my Job Role. I simply used to say, when you buy a TV or phone, you get a User Manual. I similarly develop User Manuals for much complex software products. Not many understood what was a software product also. When I shifted to Bangalore to work with Sasken Networks, it was a bigger exposure. It was a Services company and we were a team of 50+ writers. Here, people knew who Tech Writers are and what they do.

What We Do

So to describe the profile, Technical Writers are those who prepare the documentation for the Software and Hardware Products. Documentation can range from simple Release Notes to complete Online Helps. Technical documents involving information to Install and Deploy a product, Use it, Troubleshoot Issues, etc, are typical projects that a Technical Writer usually works on. 

It is not as easy as said. One must learn the product, how it works, test each scenario before documenting it, and pay attention to very fine details. To get more clarification, we browse more on the topics, speak to the developers and SMEs, and go through all the Test Cases and Design documents prepared. In my experience, the research before the actual writing takes a long time and if done properly, makes your writing better and resourceful. 

Tools We Use

There are lots of Tech Writing tools available now. In fact, there are Technical Communication Suites also. The most popular ones are the Adobe Suite and the MadCap Suite. So we basically use good quality software to author a project, take screen captures, create flow diagrams, view the output, and even to create product videos. And yes, we use Content Management Systems to keep our work organized and safe.

Being an Effective Technical Writer

To be an effective Technical Writer, one must have a fair understanding of the domain and very good understanding of the product, apart from the tools and techniques of the trade. It helps a lot to refer existing documentation of competitor products and try to find gaps in the documentation of your product. The competitor documents may be better or even worse than your product's. But still, the comparison gives an insight of the different techniques being used. 

Language and writing skills are two other key skills that a good writer must have. Everybody can write. But writing effectively for an audience is not everybody's skill. A technically sound person can write, but it may not be comprehensible to the audience. So a successful Technical Writer is one who conveys even the most technical details in absolutely understandable terms, accurately, to the End User.  

And having said all these, I love my profession! There were times in my career when I thought that I made a wrong choice. But now I realize that it was just the lack of right opportunities.

Working vs Not Working - My Experience

One question that is often popped to the ladies during a first meeting or introduction - "Are you working?" It means whether you are employed or not.

I started my career in 2006 and was always employed without ever having an actual break till my maternity leave. My baby was born and I continued my maternity leave for 4 months. So whenever people asked this question, I would say, "Yes, returning to work soon." Then I started working from home for while. During this period, I stayed at my parents place in Kerala, and worked remotely. It was often assumed that I was not working as I was always at home and many were not aware of the concept of Working From Home. I didn't mind. But then things reached a situation that I had to take a break to balance my life. I was very unsure of the decision, yet I made it and quit my beloved job. 

Then started a new phase in my life. That was to stay at home, with a baby, and no job at hand. The initial days were fun. We had just moved into our new home and I had lots of craft plans. Each day I thought that the mess at home would be cleared and I could start a refreshing one tomorrow. But with a baby, who does not sleep, it was difficult. My chores at home never ended. I was always tired. It took me a month or two to finally unpack and get stuff organized and accessible. By now, though I had not a moment to spare, I felt that I was actually doing nothing. I would be at home all day and night. And to make it even worse, people (new neighbors at the apartment) would ask me the same old question. I would sadly look out of the window and see people commute to work. I longed to go back to my normal life. 

Finally, when my daughter started getting sociable and adjusted to the nap routine, I decided I had to look at my career again. I was able to get a job at a great place and now I am happy to answer that I am working mom.

I have derived few things from my experience:

- It is always good to be employed because you get to apply what you learned (may not be applicable for all disciplines), you are more organized, you earn your share of the family income, you are on a process of continuous learning.

- Not working does not mean that you are free. Many people think that housewives have no work. No! Dedicated and organized housewives have lot more of work.

- You can effectively work from home only when you have everything properly set at home - right from a place to work, kids are taken care of, house chores are taken care of, and you have the motivation to work.

- It is good to take a break after being employed for long. You can enjoy the small perks of life - like enjoy some quite evenings alone, watch a movie while completing the chores at home, call a friend without having to wait till meetings get over or for lunch break, water your plants without rushing and tend them, and so on.

Does this sum it up a bit?


Days have been flying so quick that my daughter is already close to two years. Over this time, I have grown so used to being with her that letting her out of sight makes me anxious at times. When I started working again, it was a little difficult in the initial few days. I was worried - she will cry, she may not sleep, will not let her grandparents do things for her, and she will wait anxiously till I reach home. Wrong! I was totally wrong. On my first day to work, she happily waved goodbyes and blew out little kisses to me. My heart felt crushed as I walked away. There was a little silly pain somewhere in me wondering why she was not sad to the slightest extent. But over a period of time, I realized, that is the best way she made me leave for work happy and peacefully. Things would have been different if she cried. I wouldn't be happy while leaving and the thought would keep haunting me at the back of mind while at work.

Yesterday, was her first day at the day care. She was excited to carry the bag and was all set for school. Again, I was worried. She would cry, may not mingle with the kids, and I will have to carry her back, howling. Again Wrong! She just went in and started exploring the place happily. I had that crushy feeling, more intense this time, as I was leaving her in the hands of strangers. Back home, I just wanted the 2 hours to fly by. But time ticked slowly. I was anxious. As soon as it was 12 30 I rushed to pick her. To my surprise she was playing. And to my delight, she ran towards me as soon as she saw me. I was a happy and proud Mom! :-) Things were a little different today though. She was happy when we left her but started crying some time later. So had to pick her up early. But I really hope she gets adjusted soon without shedding any tears or drawn faces. 

These thoughts reminded me of my yesteryears. I clearly remember seeing my Mom through teary eyes, standing across from a window outside my class, on my first day at school. I cried for two days! I was nervous for the first few days at the new school, when we went abroad to be with our Dad. I cried each night for months when I was in a boarding school hostel, while in class V. Things did not change much even after growing up. Leaving for the college hostel after each visit home was still difficult for me. And worse, I broke down in front of hundreds on the day of my marriage. 

My lil Angel looks braver and sensible. Hope life has better and better in store for her always.