Posts Tagged ‘copywriter’

Top tips for killer content

Whenever you spend time writing something – whether it’s a blog post, a newsletter or even a tweet – it’s an opportunity. An opportunity to get a message across, an opportunity to reach out to a dormant client or an opportunity to connect with someone new. Don’t let the opportunity be wasted!

  1. Before you start writing, ask yourself: What am I trying to achieve with this communication? Who am I trying to reach?
  2. When you know who you’re targeting, keep them in mind while you’re writing. You would speak differently to a business contact than you would to your friends and equally you should write differently for students than you would for lawyers, for example.
  3. Start well! We all have busy lives and won’t waste time reading something that doesn’t draw you in.
  4. Please, drop the jargon. It doesn’t make you sound clever – it just isolates the reader. Write clearly and simply.
  5. Make it interesting! If it’s a tweet, will it stand out from thousands of others sent at the same time? If it’s a newsletter article, could you tell your story through an individual to bring it to life?
  6. Keep it concise. Realistically, who is going to read a blog post that goes on for thousands of words?
  7. Break it up. A big chunk of text can be overwhelming and put readers off so use sub headings to make it more digestible.
  8. When you think you’ve finished, read back over it. Then read back over it again. If you send out a professional communication littered with errors, it could have the opposite effect to the one you want.
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How to… use Pinterest for business

Social media site Pinterest is the flavour of the month. One glance at the home page and it’s instantly obvious why it has become such a big hit. Its pages are adorned with endless stylish, beautiful images perfect for planning a wedding or kitting out your new house. No doubt it’s lovely to look at, but are there any business applications…?

There seems to be a blog being posted every minute about Pinterest right now and I am a member of the wonderful Let’s Talk Here group on LinkedIn where members have been posting some great articles sharing ideas about using Pinterest for business. I have also used it myself for a brainstorming session at a design agency and found it inspirational. At a recent social media training session I held at a law firm, I mentioned Pinterest purely as a scene setter but the lawyers were full of fabulous ideas about how they could use it.

How does it work?

Pinterest is billed as an ‘online pinboard’. You have to apply to be invited, then once you receive your invitation, set up an account simply by logging in through either your Twitter or Facebook account. Set up as many or as few boards as you like and start pinning! You can choose to either ‘repin’ pictures that other people have posted on there or download the ‘pinmarklet’ to your browser enabling you to pin images from any website you look at (although some, including Flickr, have chosen to opt out for copyright reasons). When you click on an image that is pinned on Pinterest, you can click through to the original website. Pinterest is now driving more traffic to websites than big names including Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace.

Some ideas for using it for your business:

  1. Use it as a showroom – Pinterest seems to have been colonised by crafters early on and they are making great use of it by showcasing their products. Have a peak at Craft Magazine‘s boards to see how they are being used. Photographers can make fantastic use of it in this way too.
  2. Bring your brand and values to life – US company Whole Foods was one of the first to embrace Pinterest and its Pinterest page is packed with tempting imagery of food and also pictures that reflect their values – using organic food and caring for the environment, for example. (See Social media news blog Mashable’s article for more on this). Have a look at how big names including Starbucks and The Guardian are using it.
  3. Use it as a mood board – One of Pinterest’s strongest selling points is the imagery that people are sharing – gorgeous, stylish pictures of interiors, holiday destinations and products they love. When creating a new brand at a design agency last week, the designer and I spent time using Pinterest to inspire us and pin images that worked for the brand. Now we have a great way to visually communicate our ideas to the client.
Check out this article for even more inspiration about how you can use Pinterest.
If you are interested in following my boards, then click here for my Pinterest page.
How are you using Pinterest for your business? I would love to hear some of your ideas!

Get your LinkedIn summary right

In January 2012, I reached 200 connections on LinkedIn and decided to mark this milestone by offering some advice on how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile. Or, more specifically, the summary section at the top.

I went through the LinkedIn profile of every one of my 200 connections to see how they were using this opportunity so that I could share some tips on how to write the best summary and common mistakes to avoid.

I was shocked to discover that 79 of the 200 profiles (now, I’m no mathematician but that’s over a third… I think!) had no summary at all. If someone turned to you in the elevator of elevator pitch fame and asked you what you did, would you just stand there with your mouth closed? To me, that’s the exact equivalent! You are being given an amazing opportunity to sell yourself and, by extension, the company you work for, to anyone who happens to view your profile – why wouldn’t you take it?

Top 5 most common mistakes

  1. Misuse of apostrophe in ’10 years’ experience’ – most people use no apostrophe at all, someone had written ’10 years’ of experience’ (the ‘of’ makes the apostrophe obsolete) and I even saw ’10 year’s experience’.
  2. SME’s – SMEs should not have an apostrophe.
  3. Lead rather than led – eg ‘customer lead solutions’and ‘I have lead’.
  4. X company name provide (rather than provides) – a company is singular – imagine saying ‘the company provides’ instead.
  5. 1990’s – there shouldn’t be an apostrophe in this, or 90s etc.

Top 5 over used words

When you read 200 profiles in a row, you start to notice the same words cropping up again and again. If you want your profile to stand out, consider avoiding the following:

  1. Passion or passionate
  2. Key (as in key clients)
  3. Creative thinker
  4. Bespoke
  5. Engage or engaging

Top 5 typos

Please proofread your profile before you publish it! Or, if you don’t feel confident enough to do it, I’ll be happy to look at it for you. The worst mistakes I spotted were:

  1. Breif
  2. Prvate sector
  3. Marketting
  4. Hamds on work
  5. Piece of mind

What makes a great LinkedIn summary?

After having studied so many LinkedIn profiles, the ones that stood out for me were:

  • Concise – Any more than three short paragraphs is too much – some of the best ones were just one, very succinct paragraph.
  • Clear – If you do something technical, try to avoid using jargon that people won’t understand. If you do two very different jobs, try and keep them separate and consider explaining how they fit together or how you moved from one industry into the other.
  • Full of personality – People buy from people and the summaries I remember gave a real flavour of the person who was being described. And make sure you describe yourself here, not your company – there’s plenty of space for that further down.
  • Up-to-date – If you changed jobs, don’t forget to update your profile.

Remember – this could be your big chance to make a great impression – grab the opportunity with both hands! If you want any advice about writing a stand-out LinkedIn profile, please get in touch on fiona@wordsbyfionakyle.co.uk and, to see how else I can help, please visit my website.

LinkedIn summary

An example of a LinkedIn profile including summary

Twitter – what I have learned

Recently, several contacts have asked me for help with social media, Twitter in particular. I have a few workshops booked with old and new clients  to help them make the most of this fantastic marketing tool.

I don’t claim to be an expert and this is not really a service that I market. However, I have won quite a bit of business through my Twitter account and people are just curious to know how I did it. So I thought I’d tell you!

Get involved

Unless you are a multinational company or celebrity that people will actively search for, there’s no point setting up a Twitter account if you don’t tell people you are on there. Shout it from the rooftops! Link it to your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts (although I would advise using different updates for each platform – see below). Get involved with conversations – it doesn’t have to be relevant to what you do, you just need people to know you are there and start talking to you. The more people who start following you, the more chance you have of your messages getting ‘retweeted’ (click here for glossary) and reaching a larger audience. If people like you and enjoy interacting with you, they may suggest other people follow you by using the #FollowFriday hashtag. And, don’t forget, you can learn as much – if not more – from a competitor as you can a potential client.

Share, share, share…

This so important – the more knowledge you share on Twitter (and indeed all social media), the more value you add for your followers and the more you will get back. It’s a fantastic opportunity to place yourself as an expert so, even though it can feel unnatural to give away all your trade secrets, give people information that will genuinely help them. And help out other ‘tweeps’ by retweeting interesting and useful information that they have shared.

…don’t sell, sell, sell

Limit the amount of overt selling of your services that you do on Twitter. That’s not what it’s there for. It is for building relationships so that when someone is looking for the service you offer, you are already in their heads. Just like real life networking should be. I know some people who will stop following you immediately if you publish a sales tweet. Personally, I think it’s ok in small doses every now and then – especially if you have a new service or special offer to promote.

Target your communications

Before you write a tweet (or any kind of communication) have a quick think about what you are trying to achieve. If you’re looking for business then think very carefully before sharing any personal information that might put potential clients off. And swearing is a bit of a no-no in the Twitter business community, it looks unprofessional. There are applications which let you write one message to update several platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc) but I would advise against this as all three have quite different audiences and tones of voice. Also, it can get pretty annoying having your newsfeed on LinkedIn full of someone’s tweets about the weekend.

Little and often

People often ask me how often they should tweet, worried about how much time it might take. There is no definitive answer but as with everything concerning Twitter, the more you put in, the more you get back. Try and tweet a few times a day and keep an eye on your @mentions (people who have mentioned you) and respond to them fairly quickly. Twitter moves on so quickly that conversations can soon feel stilted and out of date. It really is not a time-consuming thing to do and it is a very low-cost way (just your time) to get your messages out there.

Make lists

Something I have only started doing relatively recently is to use the list function. I follow over 1,000 people and it is impossible to read everything. So, I have created lists for people I want to keep an eye on for one reason or another – clients, potential clients, local businesses, PR agencies and journalists for example, all useful for my business.

Most of all, be yourself

It is very difficult keeping up a persona other than your own. Just be yourself. Professional, yes, but not overly corporate if you want to build up relationships. One of the best things about Twitter is you can meet people who will become genuine friends – I have been lucky enough to meet clients like this on it. It’s fine to chat about X Factor or whatever conversations take your fancy (often The Wire in my case!). Just always keep in mind that you are representing your business. So have fun, enjoy it and make some friends!

A tale of two coffee shops

Picture the scene: York station 8.30am Friday 7 October. It’s FREEZING and the unseasonable 29 degrees from earlier in the week is long gone. A steady stream of shivering commuters. Two coffee shops.

The first coffee shop has posters of an ice cool drink trying to entice customers with a slogan using the words ‘summer coolers’. The second has a blackboard outside it with pictures of autumn leaves and the slogan ‘Settle back in’, a picture of a mug of warm frothy coffee and then the words ‘Perfect for right now’.

Which coffee shop would you go into?

I not only went into the second one, I bought the very drink pictured on the blackboard – it looked and sounded too good to turn down.

See how powerful marketing can be? Five days earlier, the temperature had been sky high and I’m sure a ‘summer cooler’ was exactly what everyone wanted. But not that morning and one of the outlets was quick enough to adapt their marketing.

Another example of how this unpredictable weather has caught out a company with their marketing campaign is a flyer I received through the door from a holiday company promising ‘winter warmers’ when it was almost 30 degrees in Yorkshire. I was quite warm enough thanks! The flyer went straight in the bin.

So when you’re planning a marketing campaign, make sure it is relevant not ony to its audience but to the climate in which they will receive it. Be sensitive when you’re offering expensive goods during these difficult economic times. Don’t send a newsletter out to your employees celebrating success if there has just been an unemployment announcement. Every single piece of communication should be targeted – from a newsletter to a blog to a tweet. I wrote this blog on Friday night, for example, but who would read it then? So I held it back to publish on Monday.

If you’re planning a marketing campaign and would like some advice, please drop me an email on fiona@wordsbyfionakyle.co.uk

The power of professional photography

Importance of professional food photography

Professional food photography makes these pancakes look so appealing (Phillip Shannon Photography)

I have been lucky enough to spend several years working on newsmagazines for companies like Procter & Gamble and Honda, the pages of which were adorned with beautiful, professional images of their employees and their products. For organisations like this, a photography budget is often a given when embarking on a new magazine, brochure or website.

For a smaller company with a limited marketing budget, professional imagery might be lower down on their list of priorities. But in my opinion, it is one of the most important items to spend money on. A company that produces, for example, food or high-end products that they make themselves, should think twice before taking their own pictures. With the best will in the world these pictures often turn out dark and unappealing. And why would someone want to spend their money on a product that looks like that?

If you are planning to send out a press release about your business then sending a professional image with it significantly improves the chances of your story making it into the press. Check out my previous blog post for more about this.

I spoke to Phillip Shannon of Phillip Shannon Photography based in Leeds to find out his opinion.

He said: “Choosing the right person or trade for the job is a rule which most people adopt. When you are running a business, you would hire the right staff, accountant or managers to make sure that the running of your enterprise is economic, successful and, of course, profitable.
 
“When it comes to photography, the ‘image’ of your business, brand and reputation rests upon the quality of the work produced. In times when you may be looking at saving costs, don’t be tempted to go down the DIY photography route. Unless you possess the experience, skill, and equipment of a professional photographer then the result may be far from acceptable. Marketing and promoting your company’s product is all about the visual and how it looks to the potential customer. The power of an image should not be underestimated.
 
“Say you run a food business, for example, and you may use the finest ingredients from local sources, but if the food photography on show to your clients and customers is poor and shots are produced without the skills of an experienced food photographer then the results could be terrible for your business.”
 
Mike Tattersall of Indie Ices, Leeds, is a client of Phillip Shannon Photography. He said: “Working with Phillip to produce the images of my product is always money well spent. You receive the great skill of a professional which reflects in the images produced. I often receive great comments on the images and, as people eat with their eyes, I get sales and leads into companies when we produce them.”
 
So, from a client’s perspective, the costs associated with buying commercial photography is an investment in the future success of your business. The results achieved by using a skilled professional photographer with the right experience is money well spent, and can produce real, measurable results.
 
Why not get in touch with a photographer, chat through your brief and at least find out how much the charge would be? It may well be less than you think and, in my opinion, the question you should be asking yourself is: “Can I afford not to use professional photography?”.
 
For more information about Phillip Shannon Photography, visit http://www.phillipshannonphotography.com/ 

How to… get in the local press

The professional image which got the attention of the local press

So I’m launching a new business/product/event – to me it’s the centre of my universe, surely my local newspaper will want to cover it…

Nope. To them it’s not news – loads of new businesses launch every day. Thousands of new products hit the market each week. So how do you get decent publicity for your business without paying a fortune in advertising?

Well, all I can tell you is what worked for Words by Fiona Kyle. Obviously to me launching a brand new copywriting and proofreading business was a huge deal. But let’s be brutally honest – my business is not newsworthy. Plenty of people offer a similar service (although not in quite the same way or to the same standard I would obviously argue!). Yet my story appeared in the Yorkshire Post and on thebusinessdesk.com which my fellow Yorkshire-types will know is a fairly big deal for the Yorkshire business world.

The simple answer is you have to work out what is newsworthy about your particular story.

Case study – the Yorkshire Post

The Yorkshire Post did a fantastic article about my business and those belonging to my friends Gaby and Emma. I got in touch with a journalist who works for the paper and explained that we were all mothers who had set up our businesses after working together on a local event as volunteers and that I was keen to set up a local networking group for ‘mumpreneurs’. The paper was interested in the debate around the term mumpreneur and we got a great feature out of it.

Case study – thebusinessdesk.com

I was lucky in this case that I went to school with a key player at the businessdesk.com so I had an easy ‘in’. Building relationships with journalists can be a great way to learn about what they really want from a story and for them to come to trust you as a source (so don’t just ply them with any old stories!). Again though, my story is not newsworthy on its own but combined with Gaby’s much more glamorous business, the human interest of our friendship together with a professionally taken image of the two of us and we got some more great coverage from it.

Hints and tips

  • Think before you start out on a PR campaign – is my story newsworthy? If not, is there another angle I can approach it from which makes it seem more unusual.
  • Write a press release but keep it to one side of A4. Email it through to a contact at a local paper. Follow it up with a phone call a few days later to check it was received and see if it was of interest.
  • Get a professional image taken  – resources in local news can be really stretched so if you send a great picture they can use, your story is much more likely to get in.

If you would like to chat about more tips like this, or need help writing a press release or finding an interesting angle to approach it from, please get in touch on info@wordsbyfionakyle.co.uk