International Women’s Day 2018

This year, I’ve resolved to up my networking and do more good stuff. As a creative copywriter, I think it’s important to find inspiration where you can. And while we might spend most of our lives in the digital space these days, real life is quite good too.

So, after booking onto a special networking event in celebration of International Women’s Day, I took a train to Shoreditch to catch up with She’s Back at Mother London. To be honest, I’d have gone to listen to people talk about paint drying, just to get my foot in the door of this brilliant building.

I’ve walked down Redchurch Street so many times and wondered what gems lay behind the Mother London doors of the illustrious Biscuit Building. The secret buttons that buzz to let you in through those darkened windows of an East End creative power house.

To finally be walking through those double doors was an inspiration in itself for me. I feel like I could be breaking a code of uncoolness here in saying it, but I’m going for it anyway. Mother was just as trend-setting as I’d imagined.

The walls had original artworks by the likes of Peter Blake and props adorned the entrance hall, all used in actual ads for the likes of brands such as IKEA. Staff are treated to free lunches every, single day. Not just on the Friday before pay day. They also get the day after Mother’s Day off as paid holiday. It ties in with their brand values and is frankly, an unexpected, quirky add-on. This is employee engagement with effortless ease.

If only all employers could be so forward thinking. Of the three members of staff whom we met, all three were working flexibly. Two had kids and were women, one did not and was a man, proving again that it’s not just mothers who want flexible working. Tom happens to be an ex-colleague of mine, so this was an added bonus; he uses his days off consulting with other start-up projects. Yes, I was suitably jealous and impressed by this fact, all at the same time.

Does your brand walk the talk? 

Mother London doesn’t just look good, it acts good. And as we all know, brands can often say they’re something without actually walking the talk. It’s just not good marketing. So it’s encouraging to see that the ‘world’s leading independent creative network’ as they call themselves, really are showing us all how it’s done. They’ve nailed the art of self-promotion, that’s for sure. And their work is utterly brilliant.

Right, I’ve got back up now, just had a little swoon there for a minute.

Back to the event. As a creative copywriter and brand strategist who has been working with lots of recruitment and business-to-business brands recently, I was here to get to know She’s Back, an organisation promoting women in business, and, specifically, one that’s aimed at helping women returners get back in the professional saddle. I also wanted to network and meet likeminded individuals and find inspiration to bring to my work.

Networking is work with value – unlike email 

It’s true that networking events aren’t every copywriter’s slice of shortbread, but I’m a firm believer that if you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, you’ll get something out of it.

Here are my main take outs:

  1. It’s karma not kickbacks

Networking might feel painful at the outset, particularly for anti-social copywriters, but once you start, it can actually be very rewarding in unexpected ways.

  1. Reframe your thinking

Don’t ask, what can these people do for me, but rather, how can I help these people? If a barrier is that people will just pick your brains, try to turn that around. For example, ask what younger, more junior people can do for you?

  1. Say less, say it slowly

Good presentation is just like good copywriting. If you use fewer words and take lots of breaths – full points are your friend – you’ll have more impact than if you say loads and don’t filter your message.

It was a great day but a little deflating to see that there are lots of women out there simply oozing with unfulfilled talent. WHY?

We’ve got International Women’s Day, so why haven’t we got jobs for the (senior) girls?

I’m lucky to be a freelance copywriter with lots of lovely clients, but until brands realise there’s massive potential in hiring senior professional women – women who have had their children and who want their next career break, possibly flexibly, possibly not – they’ll never quite be on the same level as the Mother Londons of this world.

Let’s face it, we might all be in the gutter together, but there are still only a few of us who are looking up at the stars.

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Cut to the copywriter

Dave Trott says advertising is getting lazy. Copywriters aren’t getting the freedom and the time to investigate products and services to find the gem of a truth, the golden nugget that brings everything into a bright new place.

Trott’s pearl of wisdom is well known in advertising circles, based on the view that a copywriter should ‘show, don’t tell’.

“Proof always works better than a claim”

Once you’ve got that truth in the bag, the rest falls into place (with a little bit of expertise and copywriting brilliance, of course. Oh, and great Art Direction. And ideally, with solid and inspiring Creative Direction…although not all of us have this luxury.)

I was once sent to the Rolls Royce factory in Goodwood to see if our marketing agency could ascertain the stand out values and place them firmly into a below-the-line promotional campaign.

It was an incredible opportunity; everyone was left goggling at the incredible attention to detail the firm puts into every car.

We saw a specialist team hunched over laser cutters, working on specially reared cow hides to cover the interiors in flawless, soft furnishings. The highly specialist team of workers were effectively artisans with unique skills.

In fact, the leather in a Rolls-Royce takes 17 days to hand-craft and comprises 9 bull hides; only 1 in 100 hides is chosen for quality. It was one of the take home blow-your-mind facts of the day.

Naturally, we whizzed back to London full of inspiration and excitement about the brief ahead. The final idea that went ahead was award-winning and it led with the truth that we’d all gleaned by visiting, touching and appreciating the car in person.

Dave Trott is right, investigating a brand from the inside out is by far the best place to start when approaching marketing.

Put copywriters and art directors firmly in the driving seat and you’ll soon see a difference to your bottom line.

Briefs might speed the work up (good for the agency’s profit margins) but they’re not always the best place to start. A collaborative effect between planners and creatives can really help to reveal the truths that might otherwise be overlooked.

If you’re a brand and you don’t have this luxury, you could consider engaging a senior freelance marketing expert to work directly with you. Someone who will come to your business with fresh eyes and ears.

Freedom is everything

It’s also why freelance copywriters can bring a new lease of life to your marketing conundrums.

We aren’t bogged down by years of office politics or hierarchical issues – we bring fresh eyes to the project and can work wonders where agencies can be, although not always, more cumbersome in their approach.

Not sure? I’ll prove it. Give me a call today.

Happy Awards Season

Ahhh the sweet smell of awards season. A brilliant time to celebrate the wonders of the advertising and marketing world. You know, for those lucky creatives for whom the stars have aligned, it’s a magical place to be.

It’s made all the more wondrous by the fact that everyone got their forms in on time, along with their hefty cheques, to book their place in Campaign history.

For independent agencies, awards can add an extra zero onto the CEO’s pension fund when the time comes to sell.  For corporate wizards, awards mean more column inches, employee retention and pitch glory. And all of that translates as big bucks. It’s well worth the effort and money investing in them.

And yet.

The self-congratulatory emails and tweets that fill our timelines and dominate creative team chat up and down the bedecked halls of ad agencies across the land have another side to them.

When you’re a creative, how do you get to make sure you land these juicy potentially award-winning briefs? Juniors have been heard to complain about this a lot. The brief may have been put out to all, but once the Head of Copy had his wicked way, well. And don’t forget the awards entry that doesn’t have enough room to credit every poor bugger who worked on the thing. Yes, the Copy Chief had a great idea, but who actually put the hard slog in? Chances are, it was a less senior member of staff or a freelancer.

Awards are a marketing exercise in themselves and not everyone will have been in the right place at the right time to nobble the Copy Chief out of the way and bask in their moment of glory. They were probably too busy making the work look good.

Ahhhhhhh. Poor little uncredited freelancer.

Yes, well, I’m not getting my bitter and twisted battleaxe just yet. My point is this. Awards are great for the few. But for everyone else, they can leave you feeling uncredited and undervalued.

Freelancers provide daily support to businesses across the land. Our work is to be valued and championed at every turn. I certainly feel very passionate about freelance copywriting and creating high quality work whenever I start a new brief.

We don’t need gongs to make us feel proud – a simple, ‘can we rebook you?’ will do. Because without the grafters who manage the daily bread, chances are, your website would be wordless. Your brochure wouldn’t create bookings. And your print ads would be pointless.

Great thinking and messaging should drive everything you do. Not just awards – or a lack of them.

So, well done to all those with sore heads this month. And an even bigger well done to those who didn’t take home the silverware.

What you do, matters. Remember that.

 

AI and the written word

There’s a lot being written about AI at the moment. You know it’s serious when your sister-in-law has an smart home device installed in her 17th century farmhouse. Amazon Alexa, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod, you name it – everyone’s at it. By this time next year, we’ll all have a robot in the room – maybe even in several rooms.

After that, who knows?

Artificial Intelligence could be taking over our cooking, our diaries and our thought processes at a push – advertising messages could soon be beamed into our homes without the need of the internet, radio or TV to support them.

 

The question is, will robots be able to copywrite them too? For brands seeking to engage with customers, creating human connections is even more important in today’s fragmented media world. And strong, well thought out messaging is a crucial part of that.

If there’s one thing copywriters know, it’s that everyone – man or machine – thinks they’re a writer. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Copywriters needn’t worry too much just yet.

Meanwhile, if you’re off to put Alexa on the top of your shopping list, you won’t be the only one.

As Executive Creative Director, Paul Kitcatt, recently wrote in The Drum, “Just when you get wind of a new trend in technology, you find it’s already happened, and it’s changed your life forever.”

September

I’m on the hunt for a new role and your ad excited me.

Concepts. Long copy. Short form. Digital. Social. Direct. Film. Strategy. Proofing.
Bring me in. You won’t be put out. They say it’s hard to find a good writer these days.
Well you just have. Let’s talk…
Hello

Dream film script

I’m pretty happy with this piece of work, see below.

A dream piece, no less, featuring a few of my favourite things: Beer, Rugby and Cornwall. Lovely.

The brief was to deliver a brand film tapping into the brand promise, ‘Quality Speaks for Itself’, bringing this delicious local ale to new audiences further afield. Great photography with exquisite shots have really brought the original script to life. Just add one brilliant Art Director…

 

 

 

Say it loud

Copywriting tip no. 92

When you’re writing, say your words out loud before settling on a final draft.

Everyone knows this, right? Whether we want to be known as the office loon, is another matter. In a busy work environment, you might feel a bit foolish suddenly speaking what you’re writing, but it is hugely helpful when sense checking and proofreading what you’ve written.

Mumble it, mutter it or splutter it.

Far better to seem like madness is setting in than make a mistake. Remember, grammar is there to be respected but sometimes the vernacular is necessary when writing good copy. If your copy is too stilted, it won’t sound natural or conversational and will actually turn customers off.

Good English or good copy? 

Grammar pedants aren’t always right when it comes to critiquing the written word. This is where a good copywriter can bridge the gap between writing compelling sales copy and correct use of English. For example, in spite of what your teacher may have said, starting sentences with ‘and’ or ‘so’ is permissible. But we all know this, right?

So if we know so much, why is writing great copy, so difficult? Unfortunately, some things can’t be taught. You’ve either got a knack for it, or you haven’t. When it comes to your business, it’s this knack that brings results. And that’s where I come in.

Get in touch if you need a copywriter to bring some copy magic to your communications. I’d love to hear from you.