Tag Archives: pr writing

Vulcan XH558 takes the Gloucestershire Copywriter back in time…

It’s a short but sweet reminiscence this week, prompted by the chance sighting of our only flying Vulcan G-VLCN (military identifier XH558) as it headed for the Weston Air Festival on a recent Sunday afternoon.

Seeing  G-VLCN (I thought our personal number plate was a good one!) flying over was a wonderful experience. I only just caught her, saw her heading south from a bedroom window, rushed to grab the camera and snatched a shot at full zoom just as the V bomber was about to disappear over our neighbour’s roof.

The Vulcan took the Gloucestershire Copoywriter back in time...

Avro Vulcan XH558 about to fly into my neighbour’s open Velux window!

Why the emotion? Well, the last time I saw a Vulcan flying for real was back in the early 1960s when we lived in Bristol. I must have been about five then, when Vulcans – at that time part of our main nuclear deterrent – flew over regularly.

Seeing G-VLCN The Spirit of Great Britain again reminded me how far I’ve come in 50 years. Back then I drew and wrote little stories, made aircraft and hangers out of plasticine. Now, as well as doing all those things (!) the writing’s taken on a whole different meaning.

It’s been a fascinating journey from a Bristol childhood to working as a freelance copywriter just up the road in Cheltenham. I think back over growing up in Bristol, then in Northern Ireland through The Troubles. Then uni at Cambridge (and pistol shooting under the wing of a retired Concorde at Duxford) followed by years in technical selling, marketing, business development, technical writing,, copywriting and PR across southern England. I developed a passion for Switzerland and British Columbia, got married, got divorced, married again, wrote a novel with an aviation theme and settled under the Cotswold escarpment with the two loves of my life – my wife and my words.  It took nearly 50 years from sitting in that garden looking up at the Vulcans, but I finally got back to where I’m meant to be – a passionate creative who loves using paper and pencil (or a word-processor now) and has been known to do aviation and defence-related copywriting.

Over the years, my interest in aviation sustained, probably helped me get into an aviation tech pubs firm where I worked for Airbus (including doing my bit on the A-380 Tooling & Equipment Manual) and Rolls-Royce (manufacturer of the Vulcan’s Olympus engines) and worked alongside people who maintained and flew Vulcans in those halcyon 1960s days… including one who carried the Magna Carta to the USA aboard a Vulcan.

Vulcan XH558

Beautiful! Simply beautiful!

Looking at the Wikipedia page for G-VLCN/XH558, I see that the aircraft first flew on 25 May 1960, which makes me a few months older than her! We’re both going strong after all those years: me with my marketing, website, brochure, technical and case study copywriting; the Vulcan as the only surviving flying example of a bygone age when Britain’s airborne nuclear deterrent really was something to be respected and admired.

That particular branch of the RAF may have gone, to be replaced by a handful of sinister, prowling missile submarines. But the Vulcan continues to rouse the passions of virtually everyone who sees (or hears) her.

Talking of passions, there’s more copywriting to be done…

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

The Gloucestershire Copywriter’s shelfie …

The selfie is dead – long live the shelfie!

According to a recent piece in The Guardian, selfies may have been the thing in 2013, but pictures of bookshelves are now much more interesting. Others are already on the shelfie bandwagon (or should that be bookshelf?) started by Instagram, including Radio 2’s Simon Mayo and the New York Public Library.

copywriting shelfie

The Gloucestershire Copywriter’s shelfie

As part of my continuous professional development, I read a lot around copywriting, web and SEO copywriting, PR writing, technical communication, branding and other topics relevant to my craft.

So here’s part of this Cheltenham copywriter’s reference library – my reference shelfie. It’s the perfect complement to over 30 years’ practical, real-world experience in sales, marketing, technical writing, PR, and of course in-house and freelance copywriting.

Now, please tell me about the most useful writing books on your reference shelf.

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

Professional copywriters in Cheltenham aren’t the only source of inspired copy

Just before Christmas, I was seeking a few bottles of seasonal cheer on the web page for Majestic Wine Warehouse in Cheltenham when I read an inspired piece of do-it-yourself, non-professional copywriting by one of the store team, trainee manager Jamie:

Wine: it’s just a bunch of grapes. Like opera is just music and art just brushstrokes on the wall. To some it is. But for me, it is all of those things. It thrills, entertains and even saddens like an opera. It is the manifestation of man’s (and woman’s) ultimate creativity and expression akin to the walls of the Louvre and the Uffizi. It is place, time and life picked, crushed, nutured and bottled. I love it. I also like beer.

Although I’m not a great fan of beer, I liked this for the vivid picture it paints of wine appreciation. I’m no wine expert either. That’s why I trust the Majestic team’s advice – and they haven’t let me down yet. Jamie’s words seemed to capture the essence of good wine beautifully.

Later, after placing my order, I asked whether he had professional writing training and experience.  Aside from writing a few reviews on the Majestic site, he admitted, he hadn’t. All the more credit to him.

Impressive writing surfaces all over the place and it needn’t come from the pen or the keyboard of professional copywriters. However, where we do have an edge is in our ability to handle large volumes of copy, across a wide range of subjects and market sectors. And because we write day in and day out we’re usually quicker too.

Jamie found time to pen the words above. However, too often, as a Cheltenham copywriter, I see that clients don’t have the time, the specialist skills or even the inclination to craft their own copy. And where they do have writing ability, as many marketing people do, they often face other demands on their time. Demands that make it hard to find and protect the time needed to work creatively on much-needed marketing, website, technical or PR writing.

And that’s where, just as Jamie and his colleagues use their skills to help me choose my seasonal wine, I use mine to help organisations get vital copywriting off the to-do list and out in the market where it can sell, persuade and inform.

Just a thought when that deadline is approaching or you need some inspired web content in 2013.


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