23 Sep

Who am I? (emotion, truth, criticism)

How exciting – a first post on this shiny, new site!

Who on earth is That Writing Chap you might ask? (or not… but then I guess you wouldn’t be here)

I’m a writer/copywriter who writes from two key things; emotion and truth.

These things are what makes nearly all copy (whether it be advertising or a sitcom script) memorable. That’s what gives it ‘punch’. No-one remembers bland copy: can you think of the last great report or whitepaper you read?

When I say I write from an emotion, I write to make your audience – whoever that might be – feel something; to smile, laugh, cry, be shocked, be surprised.
An obvious example would my case studies for WAVE Trust: It’s not hard to reach people’s emotions, and get them to act, when talking about something as awful as violent child abuse.
A less obvious example would be the reassurance offered to clients of UTP, that says: we really care about getting to the bottom of why your business is so good, your personal story. We don’t just see you as A.N Other client.

This is why my business cards say ‘writing with bite’. I never write flimsy, insipid copy. I write copy that will leave an indelible emotional mark on your target audience, so they walk away remembering something about you.

I know how to get the balance right though, to get people to act – the difference, for example, between harrowing and downright mercenary.

Below is an example of ‘downright mercenary’ – a bridge too far – from Corsodyl (use our product or your teeth will fall out: nice).

Emotion has always been important in writing copy, but in the current financial climate it’s more important than ever.
People are strapped for cash. Simply telling them that something is ‘cheap’ or ‘donate just £2’ doesn’t cut it any more: they need their arm twisted emotionally.

The Thompson ad, below, is a brilliant example of this emotional arm twist. It repackages ‘cheap holiday’ as ‘last chance to have some fun in the sun with your kids, before they grow up’ (Okay, so it’s two years old now, but that’s bang smack in the middle of this recession):

Yes, it could be argued that – like the Corsodyl ad – this line of thinking is a little mercenary, but at least the Thompson ad does it with some grace and charm, rather than blunt threats.

So, on to truth. Writing from truth is the reason that – love him or loathe him – Michael McIntyre is so successful: he observes simple, everyday truths- things that we all do, but hate to admit. See if you don’t find yourself nodding along to this…

The Forcrohns work in my portfolio was written from a simple truth: people don’t want to explain why they’ve been in the toilet so long (or rather, other people don’t want to hear it), so a ridiculous excuse is preferable.

My 38 Degrees comes from a simple truth: people are angry with energy companies hiding profits, while raising prices every winter.

Finally, there’s something else I do: I make sure that I am as critical of my work as anyone else would be. I play devil’s advocate: how would I view my work if I were a consumer? Does it make perfect sense? Would the consumer take away the intended message?

So, truth, emotion, (self) criticism, the key ingredients in my work. Credit where it’s due to one Tony Cullingham, the man who gave me the advice to always use these three things… and always carry a pen.

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