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Furnace Maintenance for Readers–Brilliant!

I was reading my Winter 2008 Perspective: News and Insight from PEMCO Insurance, when I came upon another excellent example of writing that makes life easy for the reader.

"How to Maintain Your Furnace" was the column I was reading. (Yes, I know how to have a good time!) At the bottom of the piece, this notice appeared:

Use the back of this sheet to record furnace filter changes, then tape it near your furnace.

I turned over the sheet and found a perforated column headed "FURNACE MAINTENANCE LOG." Above the heading was a small notice: "Post Near Your Furnace for Easy Reference." There were fill-in-the-blanks for the type of filter, the furnace technician’s name and phone number, and filter changes from 2008 to 2011 (with a short, lined column for each year). The lines implied that we ought to be changing our furnace filter a bit more often than we do now.

This brilliant user-friendly log is exactly what people need to keep track of their furnace maintenance–near the furnace. When we change a filter, we can just jot down the date.

The PEMCO logo, which includes the company name, appears in the bottom-right corner of the maintenance log. How better to remind me of PEMCO’s interest in preserving my home?

Nice work, PEMCO writer! Thanks for this smart, practical log just for me, your reader-customer.


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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

5 comments on “Furnace Maintenance for Readers–Brilliant!”

  • Hi…
    Thanks for the very nice mention in your blog. What a nice surprise. My name is Rod Brooks and I’m the CMO at PEMCO Insurance. We’ve been working hard to make Perspective as relevant and timely for our customers and readers as possible. Looks like we hit the mark for you with this one. Jon Osterberg has been PEMCO’s corporate communication manager for nearly 25 years. It’s his diligence and understanding of customer needs that makes the difference. Thanks again for the mention in your blog, but more importantly, for being a PEMCO customer. All the best.

    Your Northwest Marketing Guy

  • Rod, what follow-through! I have now received positive comments from three PEMCO people. I am gratified to see how supportive you are of one another and your customers.

    I always read “Perspective.” Because the articles are clear and concise and the layout is inviting, it’s an easy, informative read.

    My best to all of you,


  • Great article! The best maintenance you can perform on your furnace is to change out your furnace filters every 1-3 months.

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