The quotation marks

SCENE ONE

EXT - AN OFFICE - DAY

A white building with large windows overlooking a busy street in London’s West End.

INT – THE OFFICE - DAY

A large conference room with a long table and a number of chairs running around its perimeter.

Three white men in suits are sitting at the table. They are positioned an arm’s length apart, facing door to the conference room, with their backs to the window. Several sheets of paper are on the table in front of them. Each idly scrolls the screen of their smartphone.

On the left: The VICE PRESIDENT.

In the middle: The PRESIDENT.

On the right: The JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT.

The door opens and three people come in: a middle aged woman and man, and a younger man. They take their seats on the opposite side of the table to the three men.

On the left: The COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR.

In the middle: The MEMBERSHIP MANAGER. The MEMBERSHIP MANAGER is THE FAILURE.

On the right: The CHIEF EXECUTIVE.

THE FAILURE

Good afternoon everyone.

The three men slowly put their phones down.

PRESIDENT

Good afternoon.

PRESIDENT

Hello.

JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT

Hi.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Very briefly, before the Board meeting, I’ve asked [THE FAILURE] to bring in the new member marketing materials for you to have a look at.

PRESIDENT

I’ve already seen them.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE

I know you have but [VICE PRESIDENT] and [JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT] haven’t yet, so we thought now might be a good time. Now these are very much up for grabs so if anyone has any comments or thoughts please feed these back to [THE FAILURE] today so we can incorporate them and make the changes before they go to print.

THE FAILURE hands a small sheaf of papers to the VICE PRESIDENT and JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT.

VICE PRESIDENT

These are for…?

CHIEF EXECUTIVE

These are for recruiting new members primarily, but I believe they can be used as a general membership pack, [to THE FAILURE] is that right?

THE FAILURE

Yep. These are the standard membership booklet template which can be tailored -

JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT

Remind me why we need these? What do we normally send to prospective members?

THE FAILURE

We normally send a letter inviting them to join, in addition to the annual review and an application form. These go out to any non-members who attend a recruitment event.

JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT

If we already send them an annual review with the joining pack, why do we need this?

VICE PRESIDENT

Indeed. Seems like a bit of a waste of money to me.

THE FAILURE

It’s a marketing tool. Most membership organisations send something detailing the benefits of membership, either when an organization or individual has agreed to join or is being approached to join. We have had a membership pack for some time, but it hasn’t been refreshed for a few years. We produce it in house and it isn’t quite as slick as it could be. How we produce it, what it looks like. It isn’t fit for purpose, shall we say.

JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT

I’m confused. What are we looking at here, a booklet and a folder?

THE FAILURE

Yes. There is a booklet which can be tailored for the different membership categories, which fits inside the folder along with the application form and other materials. The booklet details the benefits of membership and our networking events, key policy issues we are working on and a full list of members.

VICE PRESIDENT

How do you print these booklets?

THE FAILURE

In-house, on our own printers. With InDesign, a desktop publishing package, we can produce these as and when required. If the Chief Executive has a meeting with a prospective member. We can distribute them at internal or external events. We can even give our Board members a stack to display in their reception.

VICE PRESIDENT

Hmm. I wouldn’t go that far. What about the folder, how does this get produced?

THE FAILURE

The folder will be printed professionally.

VICE PRESIDENT

What sort of cost are we looking at for that?

THE FAILURE

It’s pretty reasonable. I think £300 + vat for 500 was the quote. Less if you order more.

JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT

How big are these? The booklet and folder?

THE FAILURE

They’ll be A5, so cheaper to print and post.

JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT

Ah. Good.

The PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT and JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT look over the printed sheets.

VICE PRESIDENT

I like how you’ve got a list of members at the front of the booklet here. Good to see them all listed in one place. Are we on there?

THE FAILURE

You should be.

VICE PRESIDENT

Ah yes, there we are.

PRESIDENT

I’ve already found a typo.

VICE PRESIDENT

Me too.

JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT.

And me.

THE FAILURE

Just the one?

PRESIDENT

No.

The three men scrutinise the sheets.

PRESIDENT

PLC is either upper case or lower case, not capitalised.

THE FAILURE

I’m sorry?

PRESIDENT

The list of members. You’ve got a number of companies, including mine, down as being a plc with a capital P. It’s either upper case or lower case, but not capitalised.

THE FAILURE

That’s a matter of opinion…

PRESIDENT

It isn’t a matter of opinion. Its upper case or lower case. There’s no matter of opinion about it.

THE FAILURE

Apologies. I’ll get that corrected before these go to print. I’ll probably drop the PLCs and Ltds and LLPs anyway. They’re a little extraneous.

PRESIDENT.

Hmmm.

JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT

Some of these testimonials, these quotations, from members…I like this one on the cover from [REDACTED], and another from [REDACTED] but then you’ve got one from this tiny insurance company that I’ve never heard of.

THE FAILURE

I’m still collating testimonials at the moment. I agree we do need more. What I wanted to illustrate was that membership is a broad church, and that there are a number of members of varying types and sizes. Which is why these booklets can be tailored for different membership types. If we sent this booklet to that particular type of member, I’d include that testimonial -

VICE PRESIDENT

I think you’re going need more prominent members than that.

THE FAILURE

It really depends who we are sending these to. For smaller prospective members a testimonial from an existing smaller member would be useful. Anyway I’d be delighted if the Board members could let me have a few words for these as I’ve only had -

VICE PRESIDENT

Have you asked the committee members?

THE FAILURE

Absolutely. Some just haven’t come back to me yet.

The PRESIDENT waves his papers at THE FAILURE.

PRESIDENT

Why haven’t you used quotation marks?

THE FAILURE

For the testimonials?

PRESIDENT

No, for the list of members. Of course for the testimonials. All printed quotations should have quotation marks.

THE FAILURE

Should they?

PRESIDENT

Yes.

THE FAILURE

No necessarily.

PRESIDENT

Not necessarily?

VICE PRESIDENT

Come again?

THE FAILURE

In terms of the overall design we – the design company and myself – thought that they looked better without. More impactful. Cleaner.

PRESIDENT

I disagree.

THE FAILURE

Okay.

JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT

It won’t be a problem to put them back I imagine?

THE FAILURE

No but…

PRESIDENT

But what?

THE FAILURE

It’s not completely out of the ordinary to have a quotation without quotation marks. I agree they probably should, but in terms of the design spec and the look and feel of the booklet I feel it looks better without them. And it’s kind of clear who has made that particular comment.

PRESIDENT

How is it remotely clear without quotation marks?

THE FAILURE

Well, the sentence is clearly attributed to someone. You have a name and organisation underneath the sentence. Underneath the testimonial. That makes it pretty clear I think.

JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT

But the testimonials should have speech marks, don’t you agree?

THE FAILURE

I do, but from a design point of view I think it looks better without them.

VICE PRESIDENT

I think it would look better with the quotation marks. So it’s clear what people are looking at.

THE FAILURE

I disagree.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Gentlemen, I’m aware that we have our next meeting in a few minutes, so we’ll have to bring things to a close. [THE FAILURE] will incorporate your suggestions for revision. Thank you [THE FAILURE], you can go now.

PRESIDENT

Before you do anything with these I want the quotation marks put back on.

THE FAILURE

I’ll put them on but if I still don’t think they look right, I’ll take them off again.

SCENE TWO

INT – THE OFFICE – DAY

The next day. A smaller conference room in the office containing a circular table and six chairs. THE FAILURE and the COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR are sitting opposite each other.

COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR

[CHIEF EXECUTIVE] asked me to have a word with you about the meeting with the Board yesterday. You know, the President was very upset last night. You really upset him. Not so much the things you said, but the way you said them. In fact, [VICE PRESIDENT] and [JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT] were upset too. [VICE PRESIDENT] said ‘who does this guy think he is?’ You’re not supposed to argue with the President. You do as he says. Even if you think you’re right. You do as he says. If he says jump, you say how high? He said that if you’d have been working for him, you wouldn’t have been working for him anymore. You’d have been asked to leave. In no uncertain terms. But we don’t do that here. We don’t do that here, so I said I would speak to you instead. So consider this a warning. Not a formal warning, or even a verbal warning, but a warning nevertheless. Heed my advice. The President is not to be messed with. You picked the wrong person to rub up the wrong way yesterday. Remember, the Board has to approve pay rises and promotions. You were asking if you could go down to part time last week? You can forget it now. You’ve burned your bridges with them big time. Forget that idea for the time being. Now with that in mind, and I’m only telling you this to help you, we feel that the best thing to do, for all concerned but particularly for you, is to do what the President said and put the quotation marks back on. Whether you think that they look right or not. Put them back on. Put. Them. Back. On.

THE FAILURE

They weren’t on in the first place.

COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR

I don’t care. Put them on.

THE FAILURE

“…”