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Posts Tagged ‘script writing’

Flesch-Kincaid, that is. I don’t remember when I first heard of the idea of “metrics” for copywriting. When I was younger I don’t believe I would have ever put the two concepts together. Of course, back then I didn’t consider myself a copywriter, but A WRITER, as in my (unfinished) novel or my (almost but not quite) optioned screenplay.

Sigh.

Anyway, however I discovered The Flesch-Kincaid Index, I have definitely embraced it. I don’t understand how it works, but it has become standard tool for me. It’s a benchmark I can point to, either for my own edification or to reassure the client.

If there’s one thing Japanese Continuous Improvement has taught me (more about that in a future post) it’s the importance of baseline measurement. So I write the first draft. Then, I hit F7 (spelling and grammar) and take the baseline. 12th grade level? 29% readability? Yikes! Then I go looking for the culprits. Sometimes they are evident. When they aren’t, I will run the tool on individual paragraphs or even sentences to narrow it down.

The same goes for client-supplied copy, and this may be where it really comes into play. Sometimes the client, who totally had to be sold on the idea of an outside copywriter in the first place, refuses to see what Mister Fancy Word Guy brings to the equation. That’s when I say, “Look, Hemingway. I’ve taken you down three grade levels, increased your readability by 50% and completely eliminated the passive voice. In your FACE, dude!”

I find the client appreciates that kind of passion.

For all you Flesch-Kincaidians out there, today’s numbers are: 4% passive, 66.8 readability and 6.7 grade level. I’ll take those numbers for a Friday!

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Get ready for a mind-blowing revelation: Copywriting or video production for large corporate clients–companies with a marketing department as opposed to a marketing guy–can be rewarding and challenging at the same time.

Thanks, genius. What’s that mean?

The benefits are numerous. The corporate marketing or merchandising manager usually know pretty much exactly what they want to say-they just need a creative way to express it. All of the research you need usually arrives in a compressed folder or a UPS envelope. The typical MBA knows how to delegate tasks and, if you have earned their trust, they usually stay out of your hair. Best of all, with a Fortune 1000 company you usually don’t have to wonder if that $700 check is going to clear!

I sense a “but” coming…

On the other hand, when things veer outside of those “usually’s” it can get challenging. These managers are busy people, multitasking to the extreme. This script, website or brochure may be Priority One for me, but it’s more like Priority Seven for the manager. Getting your questions answered may prove difficult at times. And yes, you will get paid, but I didn’t say when. Remember that your invoice has to be signed and coded and sent to Accounts Payable by that very same harried manager.

So, um, yeah. That first example sounds better. How do you steer things in that direction?

Tune in tomorrow, or whatever the web equivalent of that is!

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Every now and then, I get the frantic call for an “emergency” video script from one of my corporate clients. Such a call came on a Monday about six weeks ago. Actually referring to them as “911 hair-on-fire emergencies,” the marketing manager wanted to shoot two videos in four days’ time.

You may ask, how many big important marketing videos, or brochures, or presentations pop up out of nowhere, to be delivered in four days? And given the liability and regulatory hassles these days, would such a script possibly make it through all the internal approval channels in that time? A cynical person (sometimes called a freelancer) might also ask, “Will that red alert sense of urgency include processing the invoice?”

For those playing at home, the answers are A) not many, B) not likely, and C) I laughed so hard that milk came out of my nose.

But what do you do? It’s one thing if “crying wolf” is their standard procedure. But if this is an otherwise dependable, regular client you treat it like the emergency they claim it to be. In this case, I dropped everything to deliver two first drafts in a day and a half. I included a note that said “send me your changes and I can get final drafts to you by end of day.”

That was six silent, lonely weeks ago.

Would you handle this situation differently? Let me know!

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