Tag Archives: copywriting

Great copywriting book recommendation from Sweden

While in Norway recently, Mrs H and I met Ronja Gustafsson, a Stockholm copywriter and PR specialist currently based at the city’s Entreprenörskyrkan (Entrepreneurship Church) business centre. Ronja’s background is in international marketing and she’s been running her own PR and copywriting business since the start of 2012.

copywriters in stockholm

We were able to swap notes on the UK and Swedish freelance copywriting scenes. And because Ronja writes in Swedish, I’ve suggested that we might be able to collaborate if any of her clients have a requirement for English-language content. If the Swedish scene is anything like that in Norway, there’s plenty of demand for English language  copy. But as we noticed in locations as diverse as Alesund’s aquarium and Norwegian’s in-flight magazine, the quality of written English coming out of the Scandinavian countries often leaves something to be desired when put under the microscope by a native English speaker. That’s in no way to detract from the excellent English spoken by all but the oldest Scandinavians, but a reflection of the importance of getting any translation or copywriting done (or at least thoroughly checked) by a native English speaker.

Back in the UK, I checked out Ronja’s copywriting blog and noticed that she’d reviewed (Boktipps) The Idea Writers by Teressa Iezzi. Having just read several of John Simmons’ excellent books on branding and brand language (including We, Me, Them and it: How to Write Powerfully for Business, The Invisible Grail and Dark Angels: How Writing Releases Creativity at Work), I thought Iezzi’s book, published in 2010, would complement them well. So far, I’ve been proven right.

I’m engrossed, and thoroughly enjoying the insights and excellent writing as the author takes an in-depth look at the state of copywriting and brand creativity – albeit with a strong bias towards the more conceptual, advertising orientated side of the business. Well recommended Ronja – you may want to try John Simmons’ Writers Trilogy.

If you are looking for a PR or copywriter in Sweden, writing in Swedish, why not contact Ronja? And if you’re seeking copywriters in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire? Please contact me.

In the meantime, Hej då (as they say in Sweden).

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

A copywriter from Cheltenham fights food waste in Norway

Whenever I travel, food waste in self-service all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants breaks my heart. We’ve seen it again and again, from the UK to Cuba and around Europe. During a recent trip to Scandinavia, I did my bit to fight back…

Our trip to Norway finished with a couple of nights in Ålesund, staying at the excellent Quality Hotel Waterfront on Nedre Strandgate. It’s a Nordic gem, with a strong eco-stance and a delicious buffet breakfast. And that’s where my hackles were raised as, yet again, we watched uneaten platefuls of delicious local bread, brunost and waffles being shovelled into the garbage. Why, oh why, when they can come back again and again for food, do people pile their plates too high and then leave it?

Speaking to hotel management, I suggested a simple notice to encourage guests to waste less. The idea went down well and I was asked if I could help with some ideas. When I said I was a copywriter in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and offered to write something, guest service assistant Karoline Thorstensen (see picture below) was delighted. Mrs H and I were given free-run of the hotel bar and I set to work…

Karoline Thorstensen with Cheltenham copywriter, Al Hidden

Karoline Thorstensen from Ålesund’s Quality Hotel Waterfront and Cheltenham copywriter Al Hidden

The finished text had to be in Norwegian, German and English. I developed a copy concept around ‘help yourself to as much as you want, but help to avoid waste’. It had to be something that wouldn’t appear dictatorial, but would emphasise the benefit of enjoying as much as you want while gently reminding about avoiding wasted food.

Aware that the play on words wouldn’t translate easily, and that I’d need input from a native German speaker, I also drafted a more direct Germanic version. Karoline, who is German-Norwegian, was delighted, loved the concept and promptly emailed my copy to her mother, a native German speaker, to polish my German and draft a Norwegian variant. That happened overnight; the message was on display in time for breakfast.

Will my work help reduce waste? I hope so, and so does Karoline and the rest of the hotel’s team. We’ll be interested to check out the results next time we visit  Ålesund and stay at the Quality Hotel Waterfront. Which we will, because it’s great.

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

Professor Stephen Hawking…or not; good copywriting…or not?

I just heard the latest VW Up ad on Classic FM. It’s the one where the Stephen Hawking automated voice starts talking about all sorts of intellectual stuff, Higgs Boson and so on, then culminates by promoting VW’s new Up from just under eight-grand.

The ad, which is certainly attention grabbing, is already arousing a response online. Certainly the concept is a clever one and the copywriting for the script is equally clever. I’m not sure whether to admire it or condemn it – the ad has already been the subject of complaints to the ASA. I suppose it all depends on whether Professor Hawking approved of it.

If it’s actually Professor Hawking, he must have had a good reason for doing it – and maybe it says something about his sense of humour. But if it wasn’t, it could be seen as not being in the best taste and more than a little insulting to the great man.

Who knows?  Have a listen and make your own mind up here.

And while you’re at it, you can see the outcome of one designer’s complaint to the ASA. Interesting indeed. I guess Prof Hawking indeed has a sense of humour. Or he needed the cash. Or both. At least now I’ll feel better each time I hear the ad. It is rather good.

Whether I’d buy a VW Up in preference to Skoda’s Citigo, well that’s another matter. Actually, this Gloucestershire copywriter rather fancies a Yeti!

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

Post-CSR web copywriting: only one thing matters

It’s nearly two weeks since the announcement of the long-awaited comprehensive spending review (CSR). Up on the hill behind the village, little has changed except for the browning autumn leaves. And in boardrooms around the country, the lines are drawn between cautious optimists and those who see impending economic doom. Whether CSR proves to be the key to economic recovery or the trigger for the dreaded double-dip recession, the case for better copywriting is clear.

Back in the 1980s we were all advised to advertise through recession. We were told that brands that invested through the hard times would emerge stronger at the other end. This time around, online presence is the one thing that no business can afford to neglect. Is your website looking tired or underperforming in Google? Now’s the perfect time to invest in a makeover. Never got beyond a first generation site? How about going to the next level? Either way, words can work for you.

Whatever you decide to do, investing in better copy puts the perfect face on your web presence and complements the underlying design and SEO work. Poor copy is a surefire way to put-off human visitors (your potential customers) and the search engines alike. Good copy, on the other hand, is a great way to engage prospects and bots effectively.

Whether the CSR cloud reveals a silver lining or we dive deeper into recession, even a modest investment in those words has to be a good thing. If things get better you’re perfectly positioned to outgun your competition; if they worsen, to compete harder for business. Either way, from simple copy-editing of existing content to a wholesale copy revamp, words from one of the Gloucestershire copywriters could be working harder for you.

Copywriting on radio and TV

On Radio 5 Live this morning they were talking about changes in pronunciation of English words. It got me thinking about how little talk there is about copywriting and copywriters there is on the BBC (or any broadcast media). Linguistics and phonetics get a look in every so often. And from time to time Lynne Truss or someone similar gets wheeled on to talk about poor punctuation or spelling. But there never seems to be a really good TV or radio programme about the value of copywriting, copy-editing or SEO writing for businesses. A shame really, when poor copywriting, writing style or even punctuation can be like the assassin’s gunshot that kills before the victim hears its report. Poor copy can distract a potential client (or even turn them away) from your business message without them even realising why.

Maybe, in the great scheme of things, copywriting and copy-editing isn’t seen as suitable programme material for the media. I was therefore pleased to see the BBC’s Dragons’ Den touching on the importance of good writing a few weeks ago. How did it happen? In one episode the business being pitched was a writer and publisher of children’s books. When it came to the judges, one of them picked up on the inconsistent use of a full stop after the word ‘Mrs’ throughout one of the books. It obviously set him thinking. Moments later, as I recall, and influenced by this inconsistency and what it said about the content, he announced that he was ‘out’.

When it comes to your business writing, the services of one of the more experienced Gloucestershire copywriters could give you a better chance of avoiding potential clients saying ‘I’m out too’ before you’ve had the opportunity to impress them with your offer. And on a positive note, good copywriting will do wonders for the way your business, products and services are presented to the world.