HdK’s Sophie pretty much reckons she is the Queen of conversation, so we thought it would be a good idea to get her down to Shoreditch House to hear Eddy Lawrence deliver a talk on ‘How to write brilliant copy’. Well, why not try and be a least a Princess on paper too?
Here is what she learnt:
Firstly, just to say, I did a quick Google search on Eddy following our copy writing session, just to prove to you guys he wasn’t any Tom, Dick or ‘Eddy’ from the streets of Shoreditch, and found this profile on him from the Guardian. “Eddy Lawrence is a copywriter with over 20 years of writing and editing experience. He has written for and edited publications including The Face, Select, Melody Maker and Jack, and even some which are still going, such as Q, NME, Shortlist and the Guardian. Eddy has also worked on the Glastonbury festival daily paper, and taught journalism as part of the Time Out Trashed outreach project during his six years as Music Editor for Time Out.” So I’m going to presume that Eddy knows what he’s talking (and writing) about.
Eddy opens his speech on Brilliant Copy Writing by claiming it’s about ‘learning to cheat at English’. As my cheating tactics usually reach about as far as demanding to be the Banker and hiding the money under the Monopoly board, I was intrigued to discover how to progress my scheming abilities.
As I’m a nice person I’m going to share with you each of Eddy’s top tips; hopefully I’ve managed to include some of them when writing this blog. Do you agree? Tweet us at @hdk_assoc.
- Stalk your readers
Not literally, but online. What are their needs and wants? Make sure you know where they hang out online, is it on social media networks or maybe forums? What else are they reading and talking about? How can you find a way to entertain and inform them? These are all questions you need to consider when writing copy geared towards a particular group of people. You will need to have critical authority within your writing so make sure you’re well aware of what your readers like to read and talk about, and know your stuff!
- Approach readers with confidence
Know what you’re talking about! Ensure you examine your subject from many angles. What difference will your writing make to your reader? The readers of your content will know if you’re not confident in your knowledge, and remember, you need to have that critical authority!
- Start a conversation
This is your opportunity to be the most important person in the room. Or in other words, don’t let your reader get a word in edgeways! Use your first line to grab the attention of your reader, and tell a story to keep them engaged. Story telling allows the reader to use their imagination, connecting emotion to your words. Therefore if you need them to take an action, such as buying your product or sharing your content, they will be more inclined to.
- Be their new best friend
Give them ‘conversation ammo’. Make your reader appear clever, funny and well informed. Think of yourself as giving ‘informational free gifts’ and your reader will reward you by sharing your content amongst their friends.
- Make them an offer
Offer the reader a reward for continuing to read your work. This starts with the headline. Feed in information so your reader knows what they’ll get, but don’t give too much away. Think about how you would tell your story in just one journey in a lift, that’s your brief summary. Then make sure your copy is ‘on rails’, that it’s going somewhere and finally, end with fireworks.
- Build suspense
Drip feed points to hold the attention of your reader for as long as you can. This way you’re high jacking the readers’ attention and their imagination and then (*BAM*) hypnotise them into agreeing with you.
- Good references are important
Anyone with a degree will hear the word ‘referencing’ and shudder inside. However, your credibility soars with a reliable source. Referencing allows your business to business content to be more credible, whereas dialogue from films or books can create an illusion of intimacy between you and your reader (I’ll always read anything with a Harry Potter reference!) Tapping into the imagination of your reader using specific and nostalgic references lets their imagination do the work for you.
- Write like Mohammed Ali, alliteration, rhyme and rhythm
Alliteration, rhyme and rhythm allow you to emphasise specific points. You can use them to aid the punchline to your piece. A variety in the length of sentences also helps to mix up your writing. Too many long sentences? Boring. Too many short sentences can be frustrating. Use the long sentences for descriptive, lyrical content. The short sentences? They back up your points with facts.
- Stay active
Use verbs! Give your readers’ brains a work out. Being able to imagine what their reading about will make the experience more fun, engaging and memorable. Therefore, keep your language active and trim down adjectives. Use as little words as you can.
Find the element of copy writing that you enjoy. Is it the stalking, participating in the conversations that your articles spark, or finding a way of making your content shareable? Whatever it is, focus on that when approaching writing a new piece.
Plus we have a few more handy pointers:
Never use a word in print that you would never use in conversation. Discover a new word? Start using it in everyday life. Does it work for you? If yes, great, pop it into print, if not, put the thesaurus back down.
Talk to someone you like about your topic. Record the conversation. Look at how you structure your explanation, how you tell the story and get your points across. Now use those techniques in your writing.
What are your top pointers for writing brilliant copy? Let us know at @hdk_assoc.