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Posts Tagged ‘copywriter’

Have you done your NCAA brackets yet? I did – I wrote Cincinnati Reds in all the slots just to mess with the poor dude in the office pool. So far, I’ve lost $260! Aside from that, what’s on the content and copywriting menu these days? Let’s take a look at what is flowing at various stages of the ol’ pipeline…

Fancy Pig says: Somehow, it doesn’t seem like March in South Carolina!

  • Writing a direct mail piece for landscaping supplier in South Carolina
  • Writing long form brochures and trifolds for a consumer electronics firm in Upstate New York
  • Blogging and social media management for a global leader in floral chemicals
  • Blogging for an Extended Stay motel chain in the Southeast
  • Writing a series of print ads for a gun manufacturer
  • Writing a website for a digital marketing agency in the Midwest
  • Writing a website for a dry cleaner in South Carolina
  • Writing a website for a real estate attorney in South Carolina
  • Writing a website for a pressure washing service in South Carolina

And the really important stuff:

  • Trying to decide if I am going to see Reverend Horton Heat on 3/25
  • and Freaking out that there’s only 4 weeks until Better Call Saul returns!

Do any of these sound like the type of thing you’re looking for? Print writing, web writing, video scripts or social media content? Spoiler talk for Better Call Saul? Anything is possible, so give me a holler at LivelyExchange (at) Gmail (dot) com!

frost

Beater Batmobile says: I am confused, as well!

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Question: What’s more cynical than deliberately writing a post about Facebook because it is guaranteed to draw hits?
Answer: Facebook itself.

I hope you’re sitting down when you read this (we pause as a million chairs drag across the scarred linoleum floor of our global consciousness) …but retarded Facebook apps like Farmtown and Mafia Wars are cynical cesspools of personal information-gathering disguised as “community”…and worse. This according to an article in The Consumerist, inscrutably titled “Mafia Wars CEO Brags about Scamming People from Day One.”

Long ago I wrote a cranky, Andy Rooney-esque piece called “Putting the Grr! in Facebook,” in which I grumbled about the various idiosyncrasies of hapless users. This post is consistently my top drawing piece – even surpassing my scholarly (!) review of the film Lars and the Real Girl (my top post among perverts searching for Artificial Partners, wink wink.)

Since that post, I have mellowed out a bit and hooked up with all kinds of friends from the past. But a constant beef has continued to be all of the stupid apps. Jenny has sent you a hug! What famous dead composer are you? And a bunch of others I can’t recall because I “HID” them long ago.

But the games are the worst. I got as far as Scrabulous, meaning, I signed up for Scrabulous, knowing that it was nothing more than a scam for gathering personal information, but hey, I like Scrabble. But the first time I saw on  Facebook’s News Feed: “Michael has spelled the word INCONTINENCE on Scrabulous! Can YOU do better? Sign up NOW!” …I pulled the plug.

Trust me, I “get” Facebook. If you know anything about Web 2.0, this practice should not be a surprise. While everyone whines about the ads, I say “that’s why it’s free.” But you read something like “Mafia Wars CEO Brags about Scamming People from Day One,” …and you are looking at the epitome* of corporate cynicism.

*Epitome: The embodiment or precise representation of an ideal. Pronounced “uh-PIT-oh-mee”…or “eppa-tohm” if you’re from West Virginia (like me.)

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A couple of years ago I sat in a teleconference with a producer, a designer and an account rep. On the other end, too many people with too many ideas and too little direction began to yak. As an increasing amount of nothing was getting done, the other people in the room began to take their leave. One by one they whispered, “I really don’t need to be here” and quietly slipped out. Sadly, after three hours, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t need to be there either.

It’s a question I get now and then…when should I be brought into “the process?” I work with different designer/programmers, many of which have never had a writer in on a project before. There is a tendency to want to bring me in too early.  When I was starting out, I didn’t know better. And hey, it was billable.  I would sit in on these meetings where we discussed nothing but design, hosting and e-commerce for hours.

After a few too many of these meetings, I began to beg off, politely.  Call me when you got the pages laid out, complete with that crazy “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet” text. By this time I will have:

  • Thoroughly digested their existing brochures and website
  • Likewise for any competitive materials
  • Conducted an interview (recorded and transcribed, natch) with the principals, and
  • Received my keywords and basic word count requirements

Now, if you insist, I will gladly attend your initial meeting. However, it’s up to you to explain to the client why they’re paying for me to sit there counting ceiling tiles while you’re discussing PHP, SQL and EIEIO.

For me, it’s about adding value. I want to have a purpose for being in the room and, if there isn’t one, I could be home doing any number of things in my boxer shorts.

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eat the mic. eat it!

Getting good copy often means getting a good interview, which takes a bit of skill. I became a pretty decent interviewer out of necessity. In the olden times, we jetted about the country doing product testimonial videos in hospitals far and wide. We corporate video dudes would tend to our 300lbs of gear, and leave the interviewing duties to the marketing managers.  Thinking it was one more headache we didn’t need, we got three other headaches instead.

First of all, I think marketers can be too close to their products. By the time we reach testimonial video stage, this new device is all that the marketer has lived and breathed for two or three years.  Their perspective is skewed, and it affects the types of questions they ask. For example, I’m sure it was a high-five moment when the design team picked the capacitor that made the bed motor 1% more efficient, but don’t expect the lady from Housekeeping to give a damn about it.

This brings up one of the basic rules I have learned: ask people what they know and/or care about. Don’t ask the VP of Finance how easy it is to clean under the mattress, and don’t ask the $8-an-hour medical assistant about macro trends in the health care industry. No, I’m not making up these examples.

And how about a little interviewing skill, folks? An Ivy-league MBA  does not guarantee interviewing ability. From what I have seen, it’s pretty much the opposite.  Example:

VP of Nursing: “Here at Sisters of Mercy, there are three critical elements to our patient safety initiative.”

Interviewer: “Super. Next question…”

Me (whispering): “Uhh, dude, don’t you want to know what the elements are?”

Interviewer: “Oh great, now I’ve lost my place!”

Another mistake is heading out on the road without a clear idea of the story you are trying to tell. By the time it magically crystallizes in your head, you’re on your fifth city. You realize that each of your 40-minute interviews could have been about 20 minutes if you had properly focused. You also realize that you could have made those 1:30 flights, instead of the 5:15’s.  The 1:30 flight, by the way, is the Gold Standard of interviewing success!

Anyway, after about a dozen or so of these adventures, we finally kicked the marketing manager to the curb (or ditched him at baggage claim, I don’t recall.)  Logistically, things got easier almost immediately.  Eventually, the interviews got better as well. Today, I can honestly say that I am a darn good interviewer, either for video, web or print. I’ve even been known to ask a follow-up question or two!

 

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Greetings, my fellow ink-stained wretches! Long weekend here. I’ve flown my mother into Charleston for her birthday. So it’s four days of touristy crap for the lady who not only cracked the whip tirelessly until I finished college, but who also bought me my first computer. It’s the least I can do…trust me, I checked!  L8R…

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I’m late to the party, admittedly. But I just spent 5 weeks in blogger purgatory and, damn it, that experience had to have been for a reason!  I’m referring to spending hours each day writing blog posts or comments, as well as “informative” articles about topics related to a client’s product.

The point is to write fresh, SEO-rich content on the client’s subject matter. Finding a fresh topic requires a bit of research skill I liken to being able to “see the Matrix.” You race thru article portal sites staring at the screen, watching the glowing green characters cascade in front of you. Somehow, you see the nut of the story and tease it out.

Now, here’s where you separate the writers from the hacks (as that cranky bastard The Copywriter would say.)  Some pro bloggers simply lift the copy from someone else’s article. Others lift and then reword just enough to avoid plagiarism. Me, I lift the topic and then try my best to recall a personal experience, or a friend or relative’s personal experience, or something I saw on TV, and make something fresh out of it.

As I have tried to tell the aforementioned cranky bastard, the amount of “lift” vs. “fresh” can sometimes depend on your workload.  I was expected to churn out 15 200-word posts in two hours, followed by 15 to 20 comments in another two hours. I still managed to do much more “fresh” than “lifted,” but it was tough.

Anyway, having been through this experience, I am going to try to make something out of it. So, I am going to make another page of the site dedicated to blogging, commenting and article writing, and we’ll see what happens.  Fun and profits…I’m SURE of it!!

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I hope all those ITVA/MCAI’ers who I roused yesterday came back for another visit today. I have been meaning to do this for a while.

It was about six months ago that GG told me that Gerry Hagner had passed away from Hodgkin’s disease. Gerry was a video entrepreneur, a philanthropist and, judging by his YEARS of involvement in ITVA/MCAI, something of a masochist as well. He served in every board position at least once and opened his home numerous times for board meetings, chapter meetings and summer socials. Long after the Civil War I mentioned yesterday, when the rest of us had moved on, when the Cincinnati chapter had dissolved and melded into the Dayton chapter, Gerry continued to serve.

Gerry was a lovable nerd with a level head, the superego to our raging ids (and yes, I am referring to all those battles over serving beer at our socials!) He was always the one taking care of the details while the rest of us chilled.  He was so behind the scenes that I am not surprised to find that the only photo I have is from his monthly column in the newsletter. Gerry was never one to leap in front of the camera with a lampshade on his head. He left that to ALL THE REST OF US.

If you have a nice Gerry anecdote to share, spill it here.  Here’s mine: When I quit my cushy but stifling corporate gig and went freelance, times were tough.  It was post-9/11, the economy was crap, and the awesome gigs I was promised if I went freelance did not materialize.  Gerry knew about my situation and gave me a “gig.”  A nothing little writing assignment, helping him put together a promo piece for his business. It was unspoken, but entirely obvious, that he wasn’t going to use this script. I think I invoiced $100 for it, maybe $125. It meant almost nothing to my checkbook, but it was totally a morale-booster.

By the way, Gerry’s wife is selling all of his gear. Some of it is strictly museum pieces, but much of it is modern stuff at good prices.

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