Professional writer and press manager

Perfectly Content: A Brand Love story

Remember the early stages of falling in love? The quickening heart, the pervasive thoughts, and the butterflies in your tummy?

Does your brand inspire that kind of excitement in your audience?

The trope of marketing paralleled with love stories is nothing new. Although the advent of tinder and related dating apps, does eerily match the behaviour of buyers on online. Communicating with prospective customers relies on devices to woo prospects into falling in love with you. Well, your brand at least.

Freelance writer Cornwall creates brand love stories

Creating imagery makes readers fall in love with your brand

Rather like the idea of tinder, where you want someone to swipe right and choose you, you now have just a matter of seconds to try and hook visitors in when they visit your website. Remember it’s likely to be done via smartphone these days too.

When looking for a date, or potential match, whether it’s online or in ‘real life’, the first thing we look at is appearance. Yes, it’s true that the first thing to make or break the decision making to stay on the page lies within its design; the words you use are what keep people there. Which is why you should always write for people, as opposed to engines.

Because after deciding they have a handsome, pretty, kind, caring or nice face, we then look for compatibility. So even if you have a product that tastes amazing, people are looking for a feeling too. It’s belonging, it’s empathy and it’s something that eases their conscience.

These days we feel guilty about spending money, so anything that helps us feel our money will go to real people, good people, helps ease the way we feel about spending it.

And this is why we need to create a chemistry between curiosity and conversion. The magic happens here in effective communication. My friend will immediately swipe left when someone misspells something, uses bad grammar, or uses stale clichés.

Gone. Like that.

Next, the crucial bit that creates desire, comes down to how they describe themselves.

Content creation in Cornwall relies on its diverse landscape

Content shows how unique you are

All too often we read the same words in an About Us section. We read that people are passionate, expert, or professional. But we don’t know anything about them. This is really important for brands. Write, rewrite and edit this piece of information so it distils the essence of who you are and what you stand for. Or hire a writer who can communicate your brand.

Use language that sparks interest; find exciting ways of communicating content outside of words. Use images, video, infographics and quizzes to gather information about your audience and build a picture of who you are talking to.

And talk to them.

Through content marketing, use words that incite emotions. Without wanting to sound too ‘English teacher-y’ (bearing in mind this was my job for 5 years), these are created through imagery, connections, poetic devices and tone of voice.

To make someone fall in love with your brand, endear them to what makes you unique.

Since I grew up in Cornwall, it’s in my blood. Everything I write, and some of the brands I write for, are riven with its scenery and images of its surging seas, clattering cliffs and burnished beaches. This is what makes it unique, which is why I love writing about it. I write copy for clients in accounting to zebras too, and what makes people fall in love with them is communicating who they are and their moral compass.

To speak about anything from straplines to features, give me a call today on 07729263818 or chat via email about hiring me.

Such an inspirational place as Cornwall produces creative writers

Cornwall is synonymous with clear beaches and crystal water

Professional writer and press manager

Bring in a writer at the (re)branding stage

As snow wages war with sleet and rain across the country, and temperatures even on this idyllic peninsula drop to below zero, the colours in the sky present a phenomenal palette of pinks and shades of blue and grey. The first daffodils, crocuses and even snowdrops have started to appear in Cornish hedgerows and on the fields of Cornwall’s treasures: The Scilly Isles. Seasons are marked clearly in Cornwall: on-season and off-season.

For many, the on-season starts as the days get longer and warmer in April, and draw to a close some time around the October half term. As such, now many local restaurants and foodie places are taking their annual leave, in order to be refreshed when the new season starts. Some businesses in Cornwall use this opportunity to have a think about their goals and objectives for the coming year. The Blue Bar is closed for refurbishment, The seaweeders are tending to environmental needs across the seas, and pioneering companies are getting ready to launch around the spring.

As a contemporary, professional writer, it’s not rocket science to guess why I might think bringing a writer in to the process early on is a good idea. Whilst I do love my work, and seek further opportunities to work with companies to achieve greater success, I can honestly say this saves time and money in the long run. I recently became acquainted with a new copywriting service called Red Letter Ltd. They produced this wonderful piece of copy to demonstrate my point here.

Copywriting in Cornwall is fuelled by creativity

Hiring a professional saves time and money

Sometimes, trying to get the message right internally actually takes up too much of everyone’s time, which could be used on production. Choosing someone whose job it is to produce and implement great copy: through article creation, optimising the words on the site or creating a new brochure text, will save the rest of your staff time. Ultimately this saves money; allowing people to focus on their strengths.

Having recently been researching Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with reference to employee engagement as part of a marketing white paper I am creating for a client, it occurred to me that many staff members likely feel deflated when they spend ages labouring over copy, which then gets replaced by that of an expert. Hence, businesses should think ahead to the costs saved by getting an expert to tame and shape words.

A copywriter can create text expertly

Businesses can ensure staff feel valued by getting professionals to do professional jobs

The main goal of excellent copy is to make people care. Emotional connections need to be established to draw people forward towards even thinking about a sale. A copywriter knows how to use these words to establish a connection from the seed to the fruit.

Having someone help to brand, rebrand or product launch, gives you the confidence to know that each word will count, emotions will be carefully brought into alignment with business goals and your message is clear and concise.

This is what sells.

Connecting with people who are familiar with a problem, demonstrating that you can solve it, and ultimately gaining and strengthening trust that they are in safe hands.

Professional writer and press manager

The Importance of Being Earnest (In Your Copy)

So since it’s my job to create engaging and readable copy for both myself and clients, does it not display some arrogance to assume I can write good copy and what’s more tell you about it? Maybe. But then it’s not as if I just woke up one day and decided to be a copywriter. Writing is a skill I have honed through years of hard work and practice.

And editing? Editing is a skill I still hone daily. Thankfully my MA taught me the importance of editing, right after my BA taught me to just write until the page has enough on it to motivate you to carry on. At least, that’s how I write. I know this is not the same for everyone.

Anyway, back to the topic in hand: the importance of great copy.

I’ve worked with scores of small businesses, and OK I’m maybe a bit more eagle eyed than some ‘normal’ visitors to your website, but if I see typos, misplaced apostrophes or random capitalisation, I really might go and look elsewhere for my product. It implies a lack of professionalism: not checking things through.

copywriting is an acquired skill

Well crafted copy should invite you to look deeper

For me, though, the spelling and punctuation is merely the tip of an ever approaching iceberg. I love to be entertained. We all do. So if I land on your website, of course I want to see some pictures explaining what you do, but I also need to read about it.

But I don’t just want to read like a manual. I want to hear a story. I want to care enough about the characters, feel connected enough with the vision to actually buy into the ideas of your company.

But for some reason loads of companies still think it’s ok to write boring copy.

For what it’s worth, when I’m writing copy for clients these are the factor I consider, and advise you to do the same.

Make a relevant, snappy headline.

OK, articles about writing always bleat on about this. And I have got it wrong heaps of times myself. So I am definitely qualified to tell you: choose your words carefully! Whether this is the headlines of news items or actual page sections: make it clear what the customer will read.

Be funny.

Don't be afraid to be funny in your copy

When I write for Tasting Britain, I reveal funny facts about my life

Don’t be afraid to make jokes, puns and be funny. It makes people like you and trust you and feel comfortable. Even bad jokes are OK, so long you as you acknowledge that they’re bad. So, more importantly write to potential customers the way you would talk to them.

Just be yourself.

I know this isn’t a dating advice column, and even if it was that is so tired and clichéd, but seriously: just be natural. Speak to potential clients through written words the way you would face to face. Client relationships, after all should be about longevity and trust. Who trusts someone who says ‘utilise’ instead of use just because it sounds bigger? Not me!

Don’t dumb down

That said, don’t dumb down what you’re trying to say either. If it’s appropriate, people can handle technical terms or big words; hopefully using context to help understand. There is definitely no need for pretention – it won’t make you seem any more trustworthy.

Be personal

Address the customer as ‘you’, use personal pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘we’ or even mention names. This all helps engender trust and build relationships, which is your primary goal once you have got people on your website.

For more about how to raise your online profile, please read other blog posts. To have a chat about how I can help you, please call 07729263818 or email me laura[at]palavermaven.co.uk

Professional writer and press manager

Is your content part of the user experience?

Content marketing remains the Marmite of discussion on my favourite hangout for engaging with copywriters across the globe: twitter. Some love it: singing its praises as a new way to make brands connect with customers. Others prefer the more traditional methods of emailing and calling. But with this incessant marketing, how many websites are getting the content right? How many are weaving it throughout the core of the user experience?

Nobody puts content in the corner

Excellent content uses all of the space

About ten years ago, I met someone who walked around the beautiful beaches of Cornwall in ripped up shorts, a guitar and an obsolete lack of direction. Soon, he turned the MSc in Physics he’d gained into a mastery of SEO: which was a mystery to me at the time. I wrote a lot, and was prolific on social media; one day he told me I’d probably be a really good copywriter.

“I write for passion!” I exclaimed dramatically, never dreaming to deign to write for corporations.

Now I am a full time copywriter, I do think back to those days; knowing that my values haven’t really changed. Yep, I write for small local businesses now, but I still write with passion. My storytelling on client websites is driven by my innate fascination with words, etymology and storytelling. I want to shout it from the rooftops. Even the funny ones.

But how are clients; corporations, brands using their approach to content? Every single word shaped on this site, on any site, should be making use of the great storytelling capacity of copywriters.

No copywriter  puts content in the corner

Like the gunpowder mills at Kennel Vale, Cornwall, content can become obselete

It’s as important as the design! I don’t want my well-honed stories to sit there redundant; like the old gunpowder mills at Kennel Vale. You see, some websites treat content as a disease: something that should be hidden away in a category labelled ‘blog’ just because that’s the new SEO, don’tcha know?!

Remember school discos in the 80s? Maybe before. Either way, I remember the early ones as boys on one side; girls the other. We forgot to use the whole space.

This is the problem many websites have with content.

Content is everything within that site. And out of it too. Social media interaction? Content. Product descriptions? Content. About Us? Content. Images? Content. Landing page? Yep, content too. Don’t limit it to blogs and don’t relegate them to some dark corner.

Nobody puts content in the corner.

 

Integrate content throughout the site to optimise and enhance user experience of the whole space. Link everything together: from the images of your staff party to your ethos, from the press success you have had to the funny anecdotes about what went wrong this week.

All of this is content, all of it is communications and all of it helps people to engage with your brand.

Our very name palaver maven means expert of communications in ye olde playful English and so we know a little bit about effective content use and communicating with brands, for brands and with customers. To have a chat about anything related, please call on 07729263818 or drop me an email on the contact page. A

And if it’s just the content you like, have a signup to our email and get our updates to your inbox. You just pop your email address in below and we’ll do the rest!

 

 

7 Deadly sins of press release creation

When articulated well and containing useful, relevant information, the humble press release can still achieve excellent results in promoting your event or company news. I’ve been handling press releases for Bristol businesses and many others reaching the length and breadth of the UK and US now. Whilst unable to guarantee publishing, avoiding committing the seven sins of bad PR should put you in good stead for consideration by journalists, bloggers and media types.

#1 Your title is not striking

As the opener, the title is the first thing a journalist will see. If it’s clunky, badly written or too long, it may well be the only thing they’ll see. With this in mind: make it punchy and a good condensed version of the key newsworthy angle of your release. Opting to use puns or wordplay is only really successful if it’s actually funny.

#2 You’ve written it in the first person

Many companies make the mistake of more or less lifting the content of their press release from their ‘About Us’ page. A press release is never written in the first person. It should never say “we’ve achieved” this or “I believe” that. It’s always written as though someone else is presenting your story: hopefully the myriad journalists who see it as newsworthy. Of course, quotes from the CEO or MD are kept in the first person.

#3 You’ve not exploited quotes

Touched upon above, it’s really important to emphasise the importance of quotes. Once you’ve decided on an angle for your story, include quotes from yourself or a company spokesperson. As well as being the only part of a release that is acceptable in the first person, quotes are the only thing journalists can’t change. As such these are an opportunity to really sell your idea, event or news.

#4 Punctuation sucks

Anything from a rogue apostrophe to overuse of CAPS will make the decision to delete you release for good, easy for potential journalists. Editors, reporters and journalists are busy people with tight deadlines to consider. Think of this when creating your press release. It needs to be as ‘ready to use’ as possible to, ultimately, save time. If you’re not sure on the rules of English, ask someone to proof your news who is. Or employ a writer to create your press release for you.

#5 Where’s that?

No stone should be left unturned when it comes to exactly who your company are and where to find them. As a subheading, include a summary before your first paragraph including who and where you are and the angle. Part of my service includes undertaking this research for clients, but many journalists won’t be this patient and if you don’t include all information, they may well reject your press release.

#6 It reads too much like an advert

This is a tricky balance to create. Essentially, you do want the release to act as a form of free advertising for your company. However, you can’t make it too promotional. Foremost, a press release should be a presentation of facts, so keep it factual and use objective copy as opposed to using too much hyperbole or making unrealistic claims about your company.

#7 Irrelevant content

Again, a really common mistake companies make when creating their press releases for submission is forgetting to find a newsworthy angle. Although you may wish to promote a 30% sale, which is great news to existing customers, how is it relevant to the readership of your target press? You need to relate the benefits to the journalist’s readers in order to maximise their chances of publishing. Read news in that sector and relate your release to an angle.

These are just some examples of mistakes I have seen when companies send me their ‘sketched out’ press releases. Of course, if you’re sending it to a professional writer to create, then an outline of what the news is and who you want to attract with it should be satisfactory. Please see pdf. examples of my releases on Cision to look at structure and word count. Or contact me today to see what I can produce for you.

Website content

Confessions of an accidental business woman #1

I say accidental because I naively envisaged sitting behind my computer all day typing creative articles and being paid for it.  For a time this was an accurate depiction of life as an original creative copywriter. But to sustain it, I have had to learn about databases, marketing, PR, SEO, web design and many other cogs in the smooth(ening) running of my pepperetically* (well oiled would be a lie) oiled machine. This was not always the plan. And I say businesswoman, which still makes me laugh, as it does with so many of my clients from SMBs and sole trading ventures. I’m still little me sitting in my office tapping away at the keyboard and trying to juggle all sorts of additional tasks.

I’ve decided to launch Confessions of an accidental businesswoman as an aside to the regular blog, which will feature once a week and tell readers about my mistakes in business, so you can avoid making them yourself!

My Confession

I confess that when I first started I didn’t really know who my target audience were. I didn’t have my invented character sitting beside me to ‘chat through things’ and the posts were clunkier with no real direction. Being a professional writer is one thing and being a businesswoman is another.

Avoid doing the same thing

Having a strategy in place will ensure you avoid making the same mistake. Get to know who your target audience are and build content tailored to them. My top tip for a solution to this problem is outlined below. I make mistakes, so you don’t have to.

The Solution: Invent a character

No, not as in who you should be. You should be you. I’m not a fan of impossible statistics but you should 110% be you, as this is who your prospects and customers want to buy from. But you should invent a character who is your consumer. They need to fit the demographic and be a friend; a confidant and a sounding board.  Imagine that everything you write is essentially having a conversation with that person. This achieves two things: you build a relationship with the character in quite the same way as you would with a ‘real’ person. You show your thoughts and feelings and speak in a language that is easy to understand. Symbiotically, whilst you are revealing your true self to them, they will believe in you; which is more likely to convert them into a customer.

Of course, with all the best will in the world, we all make mistakes and every person in a small business will have their own confessions to make. I’d love to hear yours. Please comment below if you have some words of wisdom to impart for other people in SMEs and SMBs.

*my own portmanteau of peppered and sporadically. Meaning my machine could be oiled more frequently. It’s s sort of a homonym of peripatetic which has left my mind with images of a lazy, migratory pepper pot!

 

6 tips for captivating Content Marketing

OK. So you’re not a top-notch copywriter but you love a challenge and you’ve read somewhere that marketing through good content can help raise your business profile. An experienced creative, with the conceptual capacity to deliver cut-through campaigns will hold a grasp of grammar that would make Garcia Marquez proud. If you’re not convinced you measure up: fear not.

Bring passion, bring enthusiasm and your thorough in-depth knowledge of your product, service or offer and you will be on the right path. An excellent writer knows their audience and how to keep that person reading.

#1 Gen up on grammar

OK, so I’ve kind of covered this above, but you understand what I’m saying. If you’re still getting your ‘then’ and ‘than’ confused or are using misplaces apostrophes on your copy, the secret will be out that a professional’s eyes have not glided over your copy. The internet boasts many resources such as dictionaries and grammar checkers that if you’re not entirely sure if ‘its’ or ‘it’s’ is correct: have a look!

#2 Vary your sentences

When I was a teacher, this was the number one exercise to reinforce to students. Always. Using sentences of different length can create impact. Sometimes a one word sentence has a subtext of many more words than a lengthy explanation. Be concise occasionally. Rearranging the word order can also create a more interesting starter. (e.g. The cat sat on the mat becomes As it approached the mat, the cat stretched and sat on it.) Words create pictures.

#3 Be personal

You are writing this to be read by humans, and as well as good advice; humans really like a good story. It’s OK to inject a bit of personality into even the most ‘dry’ of subject areas. It shows you’re human. Of course, nobody is likely to want an entire life story, but some personal details such as your teams in the work World Cup syndicate give a little bit of yourself away in your copy.

#4 Avoid jargon

Again, you’re writing for people. You do want to create an authority voice, so prospective clients will see your expertise shine through. However, overcomplicating posts with too much technical jargon will cause readers to switch off and then you’ve lost a lead. Again, as a teacher my advise to learners is imagine explaining it to a friend/ your grandmother. It helps to visualise a reader.

#5 Don’t be too sales-y

Ideally every single time somebody visited your website: be it a blog entry, an accidental stumbling or a sought out through a directory; they would make a purchase or file your details for future purchases. However, it can take time to build up a relationship with visitors and ultimately people prefer to be in conrol of their own decisions. So, being pushy and constantly referring to sales and packages could put people off.

#6 Add credible sources

But the main focus is to make you seem an expert, right? Yes and no! Of course, you want to demonstrate your knowledge and professionalism, but using a credible source only backs this up further. For example: ‘duck eggs reduce cancer’ could be a statement from anywhere. Whereas ‘Fantastic for fighting cancer, duck eggs are alkaline, which means they leave the body alkaline after consumption.’ adds a link to a credible source. It shows that you have done your research.

For help with creating content packages or to discuss your content strategy, please give me a call 07729263818.

Why Google’s algorithm change means you should use small PR companies

Those with their fingers on the algorithmic pulse ought to have been aware of Google’s latest changes in the form of Panda 4.0. But what will it mean for your business?

Google is renowned for being a smart company. As it strives to provide rich content for searchers, changes have happened to the way in which ranking works yet again. Focused on a developing the most efficient form of search, Google has and will continue to make changes to where results are placed within its ranks. Designed to weed out sites with flimsy keyword loaded drivel in the content pages, as writer I wholeheartedly endorse these changes because they mean more sites will be providing quality content.

In terms of blog posts and regular articles, ensure that your content is being updated regularly and with real information. It’s pleasing to see that many SMBs and SMEs are following this trend; providing solutions to industry specific questions and building relationships with clients.

An article I read yesterday forecasts a bleak future for large PR wires who prefer the tactic of spamming writers with many press releases, bursting with flimsy links but no real content. The great thing about using a small company to write your press release is knowing that it has been created by someone who cares about their company, so won’t rush the release just to make up numbers.

More importantly, a smaller company has a reputation to consider;and as such is less likely to risk spamming journalists. It’s better to take time building specific lists tailored to a journalist’s own preference. I always put a copy of the release onto my Cision news page and promote this using social media as well as sending to relevant journalists, which ensures the release is gaining exposure. This method of distribution takes time and effort to constantly evolve and respond to changes, but that’s how Google are working and more widely how all technology is adapting and small businesses should adapt with it.

It’s a recommended form of distributing to take time to build a targeted list, maintaining relationships by phone call rather than just emails. Effectively, the more penalties incurred by automated press release sites;, the higher benefit there will be to real PR services who genuinely wish to support clients, rather than being overly spammy.

Google is big brother: they are watching you, they know what you’re going to do next and this latest development is ensuring press release distribution companies are taking their jobs seriously and contacting the right people with the right information.

For free, no obligation advice on press release or any other content, please call or email for a chat and I will do my best to help you.

 

Insomniac rain: Why Gabo’s death keeps me alive

It was, of course, with heavy heart that I learned this weekend of the death of an amazing novelist. I first noticed Marquez’s work in my teenage years with thanks to the line “‘Scuse me mam for bein’ so rude; feels like a hundred years of solitude” on the Levellers’ self titled album. I had begun to write my own naive and florid form of magic realism, without really knowing what it was. Luckily, this became more refined later.

Having lived a life of teenage drug abuse and mental illness, writing was often my escape but more in the form of a self-counselling diary. It was something I used to order my thoughts but I’d lost confidence that any of it could be considered good.

For me One Hundred Years of Solitude was quite life changing in its style. We shared a birthday: Gabriel and I. But along with the likes of Ernesto Guevara and Frida Kahlo, Garcia Marquez inspired my visit to Latin America and subsequently, my late entrance to University to study creative writing and begin my convoluted journey to writing today.

Uncovering a desire that had always been there, his ‘insomniac rain’ was as much an influence within my poetics as the windswept words of Basil Bunting or the ‘rosy fingers’ of dawn that transformed Dylan Thomas’ sky.

Later, in Japan, I usually worked 2 jobs, having only one day a week off. It offered an opportunity to visit Saitama; a province just north of Tokyo. Preparing myself for a few hours of train journey, I selected Memories of my Melancholy Whores as my accompaniment, notably for its size. Reading the novella took the exact time of my train journey there and back. Like Yukio Mishima and Haruki Murukami, whose work I was reading much of at the time; Marquez’s writing conflated dreams and reality: a concept I find fascinating within life and art. It’s not his best piece of work, but perhaps his most honest.

It was following reading this short and indulgent work that I learned more about the man Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Having started life as a copywriter and journalist, his writing always invokes emotion and offers hope.

I’ve recently vowed to get back into writing for pleasure. And so to salute ‘Gabo’, I’ve dusted off his books and hope his death will inspire my magic realism renaissance.