May 19, 2011Don’t mess with success: why staying on top is about staying true to your core business plan
Like many others, I visit Guido Fawkes, the UK’s most widely read political blog, for my daily fix of news. Guido is in top of his game. His short, simple editorial style (which has a lot in common with my favourite red-top, The Sun) and knack for sniffing out a story (or turning a small story into a much bigger one) has made him the UK’s foremost political blogger. He’s mass-market, and proud of it.
But when you’re at the top of your game, how do you stay there? How do you keep people coming back? On the …
Yesterday, some friends and I had a go at guessing what today’s headline in The Sun, the UK’s leading red-top tabloid newspaper would be. Bin Laden’s death was a historic moment — how would the paper that’s read by over 1/10th of the population every day cover it?
Of course, The Sun is known for its outlandish headlines, often involving a pun, joke, or outright shocker (“Freddie Starr ate my Hamster” being the oft-quoted classic.) So I didn’t think my guess of “Osama nails Obama in Islamabad Drama” was far off. But it was too long. The one thing …
How do you define content strategy? If you’re a digital copywriter like me, you’ll probably define content strategy very differently to a web designer or a user experience architect. For example, a copywriter will focus primarily on how his words appear, in context. While a designer might be more interested in the context — how his design fits around the words.
Fellow copywriter Leif Kendall recently wrote a blog post attempting to define content strategy. He said:
Content strategy is a process used by organisations to define and plan how words, pictures, audio and video (content) are used to
April 13, 2011Are you projecting your true personality online?
What kind of person do you portray yourself as online? Are you businesslike or fun? Loud and noisy, or quiet and thoughtful? Does your personality change when you’re talking to friends on Facebook or Twitter? And are your online friends completely surprised by what you’re like when they meet you in real life?
It was an article about the ‘golden years’ of Livejournal that got me thinking. If you don’t remember Livejournal, it was more or less the first social blogging platform. Before Facebook, before Twitter, before Tumblr, before Blogspot and WordPress, it was a place where people met people …
March 24, 2011Are political tweets damaging your online reputation?
I used to avoid Twitter because I can’t stand mobs of any kind. I’m no more keen on flash mobs than I am on lynch mobs, and at times, Twitter has seemed like both — a place for people to club together in self-righteousness and club down other people whose opinions they disagree with. As one commentator said, “Most Twitter users like to think of themselves as better than Daily Mail readers. [Their moblike] behaviour doesn’t chime well with that.”
And so to politics. For some reason, it’s socially acceptable to tweet regularly about politics, even when it has …
This week I got together with Spencer Lavery, the genius behind the design of this site, to update my portfolio. After almost three years, it was time to take another look at how I was presenting my work. And I noticed something. I actually preferred some of the work I was doing a couple of years ago to the work I’m doing now.
How long does good work take?
When I first started freelancing, I’d frequently have time to spend two or even three days on a project I’d quoted a day’s work on. After all, I needed …
A client came to me recently and asked me how they could make their digital agency stand out from the crowd. I looked over their elevator pitch. It contained the following sentences:
- “We help people connect to the brands they love.”
- “We look at the world differently.”
- “We’re driven to help people genuinely connect.”
Sound familiar? That’s probably because you’ve seen these phrases everywhere already. So how do you stand out?
The answer’s simple: if your message is the same as everyone else’s, be different. If your message is too generic, be more specific.
It’s unlikely two people ever see …
March 2, 2011Essential skills every digital copywriter needs
In my previous post, I talked about why I felt digital was the way forward — and how an emphasis on sites that work, that inform, and that sell the product directly to the customer are replacing “big idea” campaigns. I said that, in order to be a competent digital copywriter, a copywriter should have a broad understanding of digital skills beyond idea generation and actual copywriting. The skills I suggested were:
- Conversion rate optimization
- User experience (UX) testing
- Metrics (stats like bounce rates, etc)
- Web design and development
- Content marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media integration
In this …
February 28, 2011No more big ideas: why digital agencies are small and scientific
I started my first blog, a Livejournal, in late 1999. Back then, the word “blog” didn’t even exist.
Twelve years ago, I never could have predicted I’d have a successful career using the same techniques I learned while writing teenage ramblings for my friends. Yet here I am.
I guess I’ve always been an early adopter. Yet it never ceases to amaze me that there are people out there who still don’t understand the value of digital.
The ad industry is changing, whether you like it or not.
I read this fascinating piece on the future of advertising after it …
February 21, 2011If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I never cease to be amazed by the stupidity of very smart people: unfortunately, hard experience has taught me that business sense and marketing sense very rarely mix.
Of course really smart businessmen hire marketing professionals — because they realise they’re good at making money, not at selling things.
They don’t think hey, I can manage a million dollar business so I can write a strapline, they think — hey, I’m smart enough to manage a million dollar business, which means I can afford to pay a professional to write my strapline.