Monthly Archives: November 2012

Cheltenham copywriters write poetry too

 

 

 

And now for something completely different.

I was rummaging through my digital files and came across a poem that I wrote over a decade ago, years before I was one of the copywriters in Cheltenham. It reminded me that a bit of unashamed creative expression can be very good for us. It makes a refreshing change from firmly focused commercial or technical writing (I was working for a Bristol technical publications firm when I penned the poem that follows).

Reading ‘C’ ‘ for the first time in so long, I was reassured by how it still felt as fresh as it had when I first wrote it. So here, for the first time on the Interweb, it is:

C

Where are you going today?
Climbing through the dawn’s first glow
While we still sleep on earth below
You’re brighter than the sparkling pearls
Of airfield dew that fall
From rushing wings
You’re gone; you’re on your way

Leave breaking dawn; embrace the day
Outshine the sun
And show the sky, so easily
What beauty truly means
‘fore making happy love with clouds
That can never match your charms

Bright the winter sky may be
But I would say
If silky clouds could only see, or know
How fortunate they are
To spend their days with you, their friend
Above the fields and seas

All things must end, not least today
As evening comes, and you return
To land as twilight fights in vain
The fall of night’s soft cloak
Upon the shoulders of the day
Still you shine on and I, like clouds
Get joy from simply sharing space with you.

© 2001 Al Hidden

 

So there you go. A tiny insight into another side of this Gloucestershire copywriter. And now back to the newsletter content that I’m just finalising, the 35 pages of new SEO copy I’m crafting for an animal charity, and the case study I’ve got to complete for another client.

From the wistful contemplation of aviation and clouds to the gritty realities of client case studies in a paragraph… Versatility. One of my strong points. Probably a good thing too, because Andrew Motion will hardly be quaking in his boots at my poetic efforts.

Never mind. I’m pleased with it – even after all those years it still says what I set out to say in 2001. What do you think?

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Advertisements

AIDA’s dead: long live AIDA, friend to copywriters in Cheltenham

Have you heard? AIDA’s dead. Well she, or he, or it is if you believe some copywriters.  AIDA is an invaluable acronym that has underpinned copywriting for as long as I can remember – and for decades before that too.  The name comes from the first letters of the words Awareness, Interest, Desire and Conviction. It’s a handy model for structuring anything from a sales letter to a webpage. Copywriters in Cheltenham use it, copywriters in Sweden use it and copywriters everywhere else in the world use it. If you’re not using it you should be. AIDA is the de facto standard for leading a reader through a piece of copy from headline to call to action.

aida

Recently, as I’ve read various copywriting texts, I’ve discovered writers putting the case for variations on AIDA: it’s as if they’re announcing her/his/its death as they introduce the idea of AIDCA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Conviction, Action) or AIDRA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, reason, Action) like successors to the throne of well-structured marketing copy. Personally, I feel that Messrs Maslen and Gabay respectively may be complicating things a bit. They’re both super-accomplished writers, senior statesmen of the UK copywriting scene, but I believe that original and simplest remains best.

AIDA works, and the Desire section can easily encompass conviction and reason. I can use conviction to generate desire or give a persuasive reason perfectly easily within that all-embracing D for Desire. Why complicate things. Methinks that sometimes people just like to create something new and proprietary to be different. Just a thought…

And then, just to complicate things further, when you read up on who first created AIDA,  someone comes along and suggests that the first occurrence was actually different again – AIDC, or Awareness, Interest, Desire and Conviction. That would be Frank Hutchinson Dukesmith, editor, in 1904, of Salesmanship. Maybe AIDA was an imposter after all?

Anyone got any more ideas on the subject? Post a comment and a suggestion if you can track AIDA’s birth back to before 1904! Or if you know another variation on this acronym.

Can one be too intelligent as a Cheltenham copywriter?

I was listening to Anthony Davis on LBC 97.3 last night. He was discussing intelligence, and a new US study that suggests human intelligence peaked several thousand years ago and that we’ve been on an intellectual and emotional decline ever since.  Among his callers were several who suggested that ignorance was bliss and that intelligent people lead the most complicated lives. Apparently life’s much easier if you are a bit thick.

It got me thinking whether life as a freelance copywriter in Cheltenham would be easier with less intelligence and less worry about the things I care about.

Things like juggling to keep appointments and make calls for interviews exactly when I say I will. And delivering copy to the agreed deadlines. And managing time so all my clients’ projects get done when I’ve promised them. Maybe I should be a bit more laid back. After all, people are understanding…

Maybe life would be simpler if I didn’t agonise about writing style and punctuation details that some clients often don’t even notice – and wonder what I’m fussing about. What does ‘disinterested’ really mean these days, should I use double quotes or singles, and will my client hate me because I use questions at the start of a web page to engage the human reader? Perhaps it would be bliss if I didn’t anguish over such things.

Perhaps someone less intelligent, less thinking and less committed to what they do wouldn’t worry about doing another draft because they could see the benefit of a bit more editing. Maybe, I should finish earlier and go gawp at I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!

Or maybe not. Because the intelligence handout that I got 53 years ago seems to underpin much of what my loyal clients like about me: the attention to detail; the passion for what I do; the determination to give them excellent value; the integrity I bring to their writing…

I’ll stick with my approach and accept that life may be a bit more complicated because of it. I’m sure my clients won’t complain!

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

This Cheltenham copywriter won’t bend the facts

I enjoyed last week’s Top Gear special about the cars featured in 50 years of James Bond films. As well as reminding me that none of us get any younger, it took me back to the 1960s, Ian Fleming’s novels and being given one of the original Corgi James Bond Aston Martin DB5s. If I recall correctly, I even had a crack at writing my own Bond-inspired spy stories…

If there was ever a master storyteller it was Fleming. He was a stickler for his facts too – a rule that Top Gear’s writers occasionally seem to bend. I’m sure that the old Fleet Street adage, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story, often apply to Messrs Clarkson, May and Hammond. It certainly seemed to be the case during the show when, prompted by Scaramanga’s getaway in The Man with the Golden Gun, Hammond got onto the subject of flying cars. In particular the ill-fated AVE-Mizar Ford Pinto-based aircraft from the early 1970s.

al hidden copywriter sketch of ave-mizar flying car

While describing how the car was considered for the film, the Hamster couldn’t resist graphically describing how the car separated from its wings and plunged earthwards. It may have made a dramatic story, but it isn’t the truth. If you’ve seen the official accident report (NTSB Identification: LAX74FUQ18), you’ll know that what really happened was a wing-strut failure before the complete car-aircraft combo crashed in flames.

But I digress… As I watched the programme, I started thinking that my objective, as a Cheltenham copywriter, is to maintain factual integrity while telling an authentic brand or product story.

I could be writing SEO copy or a case study that uses a customer’s story to convincingly sell your product. It really doesn’t matter. Either way, the secret lies in an engaging benefit-led tale. With good source material and skilled writing, little more is needed; it’s really not necessary to bend the facts for dramatic effect.

So, on that note, you won’t find exaggeration, fact-bending or economy with the truth when I write for you and your organisation. You’ll just get a great story about your product, company or brand.

And by the way, in case you’re wondering, I’m not the Stig.

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.