So you think you can write?

I’ve been having some fun with an online copywriting project over the past few days which has really got the creative juices flowing. It has been especially fun because of the particular tone of voice required by the client.

Each website will have its own “voice” which should ooze from every single sentence on the page. Some voices are very corporate, aimed at straight-talking business people who aren’t interested in eloquent metaphors and imagery; others are quirky, fun and just a little bit silly – think of Innocent Smoothies for a good example.

Fun "tone of voice" mousepad from Zazzle

PR agencies have a difficult decision to make when it comes to the tone of their websites. While they need to demonstrate their team’s exceptional writing skills and creative flair, they also need to prove that they know how to cut through the fluff and get down to the hard facts at the centre of a good story.

So, how do you do it? One way is to bring out the personalities of the team and have a multitude of voices respresenting the company. Another is to write as your chairman would speak – after all, it’s his agency so why shouldn’t it have his voice?

It can be a tough call and it’s definitely an important one. The content and copywriting on your website needs to persuade a potential client to pick up the phone, after all!

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Do PRs and marketers need weather forecasting expertise?

Being a PR or marketer in the UK can be tricky, to say the least. Not only do we have the same issues as other professionals in our industry across the world, we also have an extra challenge in the form of the notoriously unreliable British weather.

Topicality is one of the key ingredients of a successful campaign. If your story hits the mark in terms of what people are interested in on that given day, your campaign can reach great heights. If you’re slightly off base though, don’t expect to see much media coverage or many resulting sales.

This weekend the weather in the UK was phenomenal; a balmy 28 degrees without a cloud in the sky. If your client was lucky enough to launch its summer clothing range, a new ice cream flavour or convertible sports car, I’m sure they’re reaping the rewards of great timing already.

Source: Google weather

But this is the UK. The forecast for the coming week is already dampening spirits as we are told to expect rain and swiftly falling temperatures. So how can a PR or marketer guarantee that their summer campaign won’t be forgotten the second the sunshine makes its hasty retreat? Is it all about luck rather than judgement when it comes to British summertime marketing?

Perhaps our PR and marketing industries should team up with some friendly local weather forecasters. Then again, would that really give us any great advantage over the inconstant British weather?

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The new importance of video as a marketing medium

I encountered some new marketing tools last week that got me thinking about alternative methods of communicating a message to a particular audience. While I’m sure I will always fall back on the trusty press releases, opinion articles and case studies of my PR days, I’ve been expanding my marketing tool kit and appreciating how other methods can be just as effective at getting the message across.

For instance, I managed a video/animation project last week which will be used to enhance one of my client’s newly built event websites and support its associated social media campaign.

From digesting the original brief to communicating it to the new media designer assigned to the project, managing the client’s delivery expectations, ensuring amends were made and presenting the finished product, every step was part of a learning curve that brought me closer to understanding how and why marketing videos are so effective.

Who hasn’t watched a video on YouTube and shared it with someone else afterwards because they knew that a friend was equally as likely to enjoy it? For B2C marketing campaigns, I can certainly see the relevance and potential of video. A picture’s worth a thousand words, after all.

While it was difficult for me to shift my allegiance from words to pictures for the week, I’m sure that I’ll be eagerly awaiting the results of the week’s exploits.

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Does guest blogging work?

A couple of months ago, a fantastic local copywriter, Ben Locker, offered a selection of other writers the opportunity to support his blog by hosting a series of guest posts. While all of them stuck to the general subject of copywriting, the contributors offered up their thoughts on some unusual and fascinating topics. I’d highly recommend that you head over to the site and have a read for yourself if you’re interested in the subject.

Ben’s exploit got me thinking about how a blog focussing on a specific subject can continue to engage readers week after week, month after month. Company/agency blogs have the advantage of featuring multiple contributors meaning that things remain fresh, interesting and diverse in opinion. I see guest blogging as a real opportunity for individuals who run their own blogs and are looking to add a bit of spice and variety.

There are benefits for both parties. The host of the blog receives some (hopefully) great new content; the contributor receives a valuable web link and new traffic from a relevant site. Both will presumably also benefit from exposure to a new audience as a result of the exchange.

So, even though this blog is still relatively new and is just forging a place for itself, I’m interested in hosting a few guest blogs. The aim is to broaden the site’s readership and offer readers some alternative perspective on marketing and public relations. If you’d be interested in contributing, please leave a comment below this post or get in touch via any of the methods on the contact page.

I’d also be interested to hear from anyone who has experience of guest blogging, particularly if they’d be willing to share any feedback – positive or negative – that they received as a result.

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Is the PR industry really that cut-throat?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post thanking PR Week and a former colleague, Phil Szomszor, for recommending this blog to their readers. This week another good friend and former colleague, Paul Stallard, lent me his support by posting about new bloggers in the PR space. Here are his kind words:

Becca has just started her own PR and marketing blog and has already featured in PR Week’s best of the technology PR bloggers which I think tells you a lot about the quality of her writing. Having taken a year away from PR to work for a digital agency her posts bring an intelligent view of what is required from both skill sets.

When the topic of the public relations industry comes up in conversation, many people are still quick to declare that it’s not only fiercely competitive but also one of the most cut-throat professions out there. The PR professionals that I’ve met and worked with, however, have completely overthrown this stereotype. They have been willing to direct readers away from their own blogs, share the “link juice” that is so valuable for SEO with a newly established site and offer advice and guidance based on their own experience.

I don’t doubt that some people working in the PR industry are far less generous and reputable than others (surely this is the case in any line of work?) but every now and then it’s good to recognise that not everyone is looking for personal gain by using those around them. Some are just happy to share their knowledge, help others where they can and, ultimately, improve the reputation of PR professionals and bloggers alike.

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