Welcome to Wonderword

Welcome to my blog. Stay a while if you want to talk about how good communication is like oxygen for businesses. Or if you’d like to swap notes on the mighty power of online PR and marketing. Or if you have a business and want to know more about how blogging and social media can support it. I’m a journalist, copywriter, blogger, Twitter addict, Facebook fan and avid consumer [shopaholic]. Over 10 years in PR, five in journalism… I’ve got a thing or two to say about how to give your business credibility through the words you choose — and the media in which you publish them. Join the conversation…

Catherine Goddard, Wonderword

Want to know how Wonderword can help you? Check out About & What We Do

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Words sell

Words Sell. As straplines go, “Sex Sells” is better. But “Words Sell” is equally true and something that can get overlooked by folk that have a product or service they’re trying to shift.

It might seem unfair, but sometimes it’s not good enough to have talent, ideas or an invention that will change the world… Oh no, you need to have a brand, a story, a VOICE! You need to be irresistible to your most important audience, with a message that’s more convincing and charming than that of competitors.

That’s why you need a professional copywriter on your side who can squeeze every last drop of ‘special’ from what you offer and crystallize it. Someone (like me) who can give your communications personality and an empathetic edge, which hits the targeting bullseye.

That’s what I do for clients in a range of unconnected industries. Whether I’m talking about lingerie, alcohol, skincare, interior design, or fitness, I always take the time to learn about a client’s business, ethos and the image it wants to present. My goal is to say what they want to say, only better. Or, in some cases, I write what they need to say, but didn’t know it.

Whether the words are designed to sell directly, or to attract new audiences, is up to the client’s brief. But words have a versatile power and that’s why businesses need to get them right. Saving pennies by not hiring a talented copywriter, could lose them pounds in the long run.

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What is copywriting?

It’s amazing how many folks building new websites, or printing brochures, don’t think to invest as much in written content as design.

A professional web designer is a no-brainer, while copy is something that can be cobbled together in-house. Or bought at rock-bottom prices from content writers that charge so little, it’s clear that even they think their work is not worthy.

While there are many business owners and brands that believe quality copy is one of the cornerstones of marketing and turning over profit, it is often undervalued or overlooked.

I’ve had business owners ask me: “What is copywriting anyway?” Or people on Twitter ask me to help with a copyright issue. Because of this befuddlement, I thought I’d go back to basics and explain what copywriting is… and why extraordinary words matter.

Copywriting for businesses is an art, in my opinion. It’s the copywriter’s job to take the client’s brief, which is probably underpinned by a commercial motive, and keep it firmly in mind. The copywriter then puts the audience the client wants to reach onto the analyst’s couch. Understanding their mindset and motivation is crucial to writing copy that grips them and moves them to take action. Writing for business and brands is like treading a tightrope between commercial and compelling. The client’s messages are packaged in an appetising way for the desired audience.

A good copywriter has objectivity that’s hard to find when you’re immersed in your own enterprise. Look to them to say what you want to say, only better and more concisely. It’s hard to keep brevity as a rule when you’re passionate about every minute detail of your offering. A trusted copywriter can help you structure your communications and pick out the points that have the strongest news value.

Quality copy is effortless to read. It makes you nod and smile, it stirs thoughts, it draws out empathy — and it makes you want to share it. In this age of social media, isn’t that something worth shooting for? Your blog, your articles, your social content, taken by your readers to a new audience. They won’t do that if your copy bores them and stops their reading in its tracks.

Copy written with skill, charm and humour gives your business a personality. Where would Boden and Innocent be without their instantly recognisable “Voice”? It’s all down to the affable and witty copy of skilled writers who have built a persona and story for these brands.

Investing in well-written words for communications, online and offline, gives you the professional edge. People take you seriously. You have an identity. You don’t blend into the cut-and-paste background. You have standout from the competition. You look like a player.

You have so little time to make a good impression. You can’t do it when your power of speech, or writing, lets you down. That’s why you need a copywriter that you can trust.

 

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Perfect matchmaking at CareerCV

I like to be good value for money. So I was very pleased when Centaur hired me to write an email campaign for CareerCV, the CV portal for Marketing Week, Creative Review, Design Week, New Media Age and Mad Jobs  – and then found they had enough quality material to create six emails instead of two, with an adjacent ad campaign.

The brief I was given was to write the copy for an email and a follow-up, driving home CareerCV’s credentials as an aspirational recruitment website: a place where the best candidates can access the best opportunities in their industries. A recruitment site where time-wasting is kept to a minimum by precision CV matching.   A site where, thanks to a CV-banking service, candidates CVs can evolve even when they are not actively job searching.

I developed the two emails as briefed and the client was impressed with the way that I articulated CareerCV’s clear benefits to both recruiters and job seekers.  So much so that she broke down the copy to produce six themes, which I fleshed out to create an email campaign with complementary adverts.

The campaign is live now. I can’t wait to hear about the results.

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The new agency:2 global site

Ever heard anyone say they are a social media “guru”? I suspect you probably have, as the label is getting some serious overuse. Self-proclaimed experts may be two-a-penny, but the real visionaries – those who understand how to create powerful social media programmes that can be measured and optimised to deliver real ROI — are few and far between.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with an agency that has a real claim on the label “social media expert”: agency:2 was the first social media agency in the UK and is now a leader in its field both in the UK and worldwide. Having delivered successful social media programmes for names like BA, Mastercard and HP, they have a strong track record in meeting business objectives through skilled social media marketing.

As a passionate advocate of social media’s role in PR and marketing, I was delighted to be chosen by agency:2 to write copy for their new global website. The brief was to present their credentials concisely to a global audience, emphasising their experience in working with pan-European and International brands. I drafted the copy speedily — thanks to an excellent brief — and I’m thrilled with the result, which has now gone live. Check it out here.

The client must be pleased too – she gave me glowing recommendation on LinkedIn — thanks!

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10, 9, 8: the coundown to The Ten Best begins

I’ve been working on a new website for a while and I am almost ready to launch it into cyberspace. It’s called The Ten Best and I am billing it as “The Essential Guide to The Best of Everything”.

I’m just building content right now — and working on some of the features of the layout. It’s very much a work in progress at present, but I couldn’t keep my baby a secret any longer.

If you’ve got a Ten Best list you’d like me to cover, give me a shout.

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I’m a Great Aunt for Aunt Bessie’s

Well it’s been a busy, family-expanding few weeks. I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve become a Great Aunt

Not literally, I might add (trying to preserve the impression of relative youth) — but I am one of a panel of experts that has joined the Aunt Bessie’s family to share a wealth of foodie advice.  I’ll be writing “aunticles” — and getting involved in a social media campaign for the brand. 

My mouth’s watering at the prospect — especially as it means sampling many of Aunt Bessie’s delights.  Bring on those honey-glazed roast parsnips and a jam roly poly or two (all in the name of research, you understand).

Not that I can claim to be the new Nigella or anything.  My role is simply to expound on the challenges of being a mum that wants to do right by her kids nutritionally, yet faces the battle of being time-pressured and blessed with children whose jaws usually clamp shut at the sight of anything remotely healthy.

The Aunt Bessie’s message rings true for me and many other mums: that there is no shame in accepting a little help from frozen foods to help you make traditional family meals when you’re short of time.  The Great Aunts, including myself, are just another way that Aunt Bessie’s hopes to encourage meal-time inspiration for anyone lacking in time or skill in the kitchen.

A friend of mine (who’s actually quite handy in the kitchen) summed it up quite perfectly:  “Our boy loves those Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire puds. We would make our own, but we’re too busy having fun.”

Helping hand for your family

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Happy(ish) to dance to Cosmo’s tune

Cate Sevilla raises some good points about the Cosmo Blog Awards in her post: Dance, Blogger! Dance!  And airs a few views that I have a different take on.

For background, Cosmopolitan launched a Blog Awards this year: to search for the cream of British blogging talent.  It’s been less than two months since its glittering launch party, attended by bloggers that lapped up the attention for their “art” — and tottered off back to their laptops to throw themselves into their campaigns for blog superstardom. 

Sevilla suggests that all the fanfare about the launch of this blogging competition by a mainstream magazine, the hoopla about nominations, the shortlist — and now the shameless touting for votes by shortlisted bloggers (like me) — has become a bit of a circus.  And an example of bloggers allowing themselves “to be be used and manipulated in exchange for some pampering, wooing and ego-stroking.”

While I agree that the influx of begging missives — PLEASE VOTE FOR ME — that has assaulted Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and email inboxes has a whiff of the desperate about it… I ask, can you really blame bloggers for piggy-backing this opportunity for self-promotion, or even for wanting a bit of glory?

I disagree with the feeling that the shortlisted bloggers’ pleas for votes make them nothing more than “puppets” that have been suckered into driving traffic to the Cosmopolitan website.

I for one accept that blogging is about give and take. While I know that Cosmo’s game is not just about glorifying bloggers — it’s about enhancing its own profile — I’m happy to scratch their back, if they scratch mine.

And I’ve had plenty of currency from the Awards to date. When my (other) blog — Small bust, Big heart was shortlisted — its visitor levels took a sizeable hike.  And shamelessly whoring the link to the shortlist has earned me kudos in the small-busted lingerie industry, building relationships I can nurture in the future. 

It’s been a reason to big myself up on LinkedIn and draw myself to the attention of clients I’ve worked with before — underlining my blogging skills. So I can’t complain.

Where I wholeheartedly support Sevilla’s views is concerning her critique of Cosmo’s true committment to this Awards process. Firstly, the shortlist was not announced on time… and, when it was, the voting page was Glitch Central.

I’ve lost track of the number of my would-be voters who’ve said: the voting page doesn’t work; or, there’s no submit button. As I write, the page still doesn’t seem to be functional –  over a week after the shortlist was announced.

Then, the deadline for voting was extended… having shot my load early, this gave me a three week void until the end of the process with no more people to beg a vote from.

I also agree with Sevilla that the prize is woeful and misguided: an opportunity to write for Cosmo.  It is unclear whether this is a paid role.

One blogger who did not know the prize tweeted her hopes for a wad of cash and a bunk-up with Idris Elba. This seems more appropriate.

I feel Cosmo has misunderstood its blogging audience. Bloggers don’t feel that their medium plays second fiddle to mainstream magazines. They don’t all dream of working as a journalist.  If they do, they are probably doing it already.

Perhaps Cosmo should offer to write for the winning bloggers instead? And help drive traffic to their guest blog posts?  Just an idea.

My final grievance is the lack of thought that seems to have gone into the process that sees bloggers crowned as “winners”.  Blogs with the most votes win, simple.

The shortlists contain some great blogs — but they are so incredibly unevenly pitched (think David and Goliath) that the results in some cases are foregone conclusions.

For instance, niche blogs like Small bust, Big heart had no category more appropriate to be nominated into than the very broad umbrella of the “lifestyle” category.

Now, as a shortlisted blog, it is competing against much bigger, more widely appealing blogs.  The task to get the most number of votes is completely impossible. (Mind you, the word “impossible” is like a red rag to a bull with me, so I’ll keep trying til the fat lady sings, no doubt.)

In the celebrity section, the shortlist includes Holy Moly.  Goodness knows how other blogs are supposed to compete against these guys, who claim to have 1.2 million unique users per month.  Not exactly fair is it?

So I very much doubt that Cosmo will achieve its supposed goal of finding the cream of Britain’s blogging talent.   And they will not be genuinely rewarding the bloggers out there who, as Sevilla says, produce fantastic work that takes up a lot of time and effort.

In most cases, unlike that of Holy Moly, there isn’t a big ad department to help stump-up rewards: bloggers’ drive comes from passion and a weakness for hard graft.  And if we make a few bob along the way, so much the better.

Still, an award on the mantlepiece would be nice.

Go on then: VOTE FOR ME — cast a vote for Small bust, Big heart in the Lifestyle section of the Cosmo Blog Awards

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Cosmo Blog Awards success

A quick note to say thank you to anyone that nominated my “other blog” — Small bust, Big heart for a Cosmo Blog Award… and to share the awesome news that your kind nominations paid off: Small bust, Big heart has been shortlisted in the Lifestyle section and now goes to the public vote.

I have a favour to ask: if you like my blog, please visit the Cosmo Blog Awards shortlist and register your vote for Small bust, Big heart in the Lifestyle section. Voting closes on August 31st and the winners will be announced shortly after.

Also, if you can: find a way to spread the word… on Twitter, on Facebook, among your buddies and associates — if you know anyone that would appreciate what the SBBH blog is about.

About SBBH:
Small bust, big heart is a place to celebrate the natural beauty of the small bust. Gush about the lingerie and clothes that scream, ‘Can you handle me?’ not ‘Am I enough?’ Find advice on trends and styles that fit & flatter a small-busted figure. Be entertained by topical boob-related stories. Launched in November 2009, Small bust, big heart is a must-read for small-busted women with big hearts and open minds. Written by a blogger with a cup half-full.

Thanks so much for your help and support.

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Kerrrching! The social media pay off

ROI. That’s what the success of all marketing campaigns are measured by, right? And social media marketing is no exception. The cost of social media — mainly time, expertise and manpower — needs to show some measurable benefit, or else there’s no point.

Some campaigns are born of the misguided concept: we have to do it, because every one else is. But “keeping up with the Jones’s” is just a morsel of an achievement, compared to the feast that could be savoured if it were approached properly. Having a campaign strategy — and setting goals that make a difference to a business’s bottom line — should be the number one priority.

But what sort of concrete pay-off can a business expect from investing in social media? This video from Socialnomics sums up the tangible benefits to be enjoyed:

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Social media marketing: how the pros do it

Want to get an ROI on SMM? Learn from the Kings of the Social Media Jungle

Social Media Examiner is a must read if you’re serious about social media marketing. The free online magazine helps businesses navigate the “social media jungle” — using tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — to make a concrete difference to lead generation, sales and brand awareness.

To prove that Social Media Examiner is indeed “The King of the Jungle” when it comes to social media know-how, the site’s founder Michael Stelzner has published the awesome: 2010 SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING INDUSTRY REPORT — How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses. You can download it for free and start soaking up insights on thorny issues like: how much time do marketers invest with social media activities?

Stelzner says the report lifts the lid on the “Who, What, Where, When and Why?” of social media marketing. Anyone heading up a marketing team should give the report a good thumb-through — an analysis could help them persuade others of the value of social media marketing… when it’s done right.


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