Monthly Archives: December 2013

Season’s Greetings from the Gloucestershire Copywriter

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

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What makes a Gloucestershire copywriter?

Hot on the heels of my last post about CV writing, I took a trip down my own career memory lane when former boss, Martin Clarke OBE, got in touch for a chat about some writing support. As well as his briefing, our conversation was a great opportunity to revisit old times – and to remember former colleagues who are no longer with us.

Martin is one of those super-influential people that everyone should meet during their career (another is Mike Rigby, from whom I learned so much about PR writing at MRA before going freelance). Now the chief executive of the British Precast Concrete Federation (the recent OBE was a well-deserved reward for services to the concrete industry), Martin was the group marketing manager at ARC (later part of the Hanson plc empire) when we worked together in the 1980s.

Reminiscing over coffee reminded me about the importance of the diverse experience we gather throughout a career. From childhood, I was always interested in graphics and writing, yet, by twists of fate and circumstance, my CV shows 15 years of selling, market research report writing, marketing management and technical writing before I launched my own business as one of the copywriters in Cheltenham.

Sometimes during that time I felt I wasn’t on the right course, but with time and focus on what I really wanted to do, I moved myself into the place I’m meant to be – and where, I believe, I was always meant to be.

So what about those years in quarries, selling mortar to hard-nosed contracts managers, or estimating for a packaging operation (alongside the PR writing), or managing promotional projects for Bradstone Garden Products? Looking back at my CV, and the years of experience it represents, I can now see with startling clarity the value of all those experiences. And so, I believe, do my clients. You see, I’m not some Johnny (or Jilly) come lately aspiring copywriter fresh out of college with their shiny English degree. I’ve been round the block a few times, and the quarry, and the packaging works, and the aerospace tech pubs department and the PR agency, and it all adds up to what makes me, well, ‘me’.

Add a bit of innate writing ability, some creativity and a lot of writing practice to those experiences and you have a unique resource: someone who really understands industry and business and marketing; someone who’s been where you are and stood in your shoes. Someone who can convert what you do into a meaningful story for your chosen audience.

Yes, sometimes it’s good to look back and reflect on what shaped the person you are now. And why certain things happened (or why you made them happen).

Then you look to the future and apply everything you’ve learned to the next copywriting project.

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

Atten-shun! Military to civilian transition CV writing

I had the opportunity to deploy my military CV writing service for a client recently.  I’m not one of the mass-CV generators; there are plenty of people offering this service. What I offer is a bespoke service for anyone who wants the attention to detail, fact-finding and writing that a professional copywriter can offer – especially if it’s a military to civilian CV, with all the special challenges this brings.

army

My most recent client, approaching the end of their military career, fell into this category and presented all the challenges of military CV writing: the requirement to demilitarise terminology; the need to turn military experience and achievements into benefits that will appeal to civilian employers; and the usual CV presentation challenges. At least there was plenty of great material to work with; members of the armed forces come with amazingly varied experience, loads of training and a wealth of skills  that should set civilian employers’ mouths watering. It’s well known that, once the transition to a less rigidly structured civilian working environment is managed effectively, ex-military personnel have loads to offer in business or administration – particularly in areas such as transport, logistics, risk management, training and project management.

The project went like clockwork (like a well-planned and executed military operation, in fact). And from the start I was reminded that all the usual skills that I deploy as a Cheltenham copywriter came into play. There was the thorough fact-finding, using a combination of a fact-find form and a thorough telephone interview. Then came the organisation of the document. Not all CVs are ordered the same way, and military CVs demand a specific approach. Then came the identification and presentation of the candidate’s skills, experiences and differentiators to put their case strongly to any potential recruiter. This took a bit of encouragement, but the end result was that my client started thinking the right way. I was able to pack the finished CV with actions, personal characteristics and achievements that will resonate with a civilian. And all the time, the relentless translation of military jargon into language that your typical civilian manager would understand…

The final document was a concise, well-structured CV that put the emphasis in all the right places, sold the candidate strongly and, importantly, allowed scope for the person involved to tailor certain sections to specific vacancies in future. That’s important for any candidate: because every vacancy is different and every CV must be tailored. As a CV writer and editor, building-in this capability is an important part of the document design and writing role.

With so many military personnel coming out of the forces, there’s a great opportunity for civilian employers to access this pool of skills and experience. And for the CV writers, like me, who specialise in military-to-civilian-transition-CV writing and editing. What’s more, while using many of the same skills,  it makes a refreshing change from my usual website, brochure and client case study writing.

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

Gloucestershire copywriter spots silent assassins at tyre depot…

One of our cars needed a couple of tyres last week, so I left the email copywriting that I was doing at the time and headed down to the local branch of a well-known national tyre supplier for some new rubber.  The response to my phone call had been friendly and helpful. The same applied when I pulled up at the depot too. In the warm, clean waiting area there was free coffee and a decent pile of magazines to flick through while the work was being done in a well-organised workshop beyond the window. And a wide-screen TV was running what looked like a very professionally produced series of mini-documentaries about different aspects of tyre care and selection. All good so far…

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The TV caught my attention, as it was supposed to do. I found myself engrossed in a feature on the benefits of fitting winter tyres. It was really interesting, and I was pleased to see that subtitles had been designed in for the hard-of hearing. Of course, it was impossible not to read the subtitles. And as I did, I noticed that the copywriting and proof-reading hadn’t been done well at all. For instance, the word braking appeared as ‘breaking’ and Arctic conditions became ‘artic conditions’ (and not an ASDA delivery lorry in sight!)

My attention was diverted from the (very slick) mini programme to spotting the typos in the subtitles. Worse still, I found myself wondering why, if they couldn’t write ‘braking’ correctly on a tyre-related programme, I should have full confidence in the message that was being delivered (or the brand that was delivering it to me). Some people, it’s true, might not have noticed. But others, like me,  will have done so. And others still may have been distracted by a niggling awareness that something was wrong with the text – without being  sure exactly what.

The silent assassins had struck like the gunshot that kills before the victim hears the report from a weapon. The brand had been dented and the message undermined. And the originators probably hadn’t got a clue.

And the lesson to learn? If you want to reduce the risk of ‘silent assassins’ undermining your marketing message in brochure copy, web/SEO copywriting or in client case studies, a bit of professional support could work wonders. After all, you wouldn’t dream of fitting your own tyres would you? You’d leave it to the experts.  The same applies to copywriting, copy-editing and proof-reading.

And like new tyres at the start of winter, what a difference it makes.

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