Blog Archives

If HUGE multinational horse meat retailers can fake humanity…

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Brits have closer, more passionate relationships with their supermarkets than we in Oz. After all, some grocers have histories longer than our period of European settlement. No wonder Napoleon famously described Britain as “une nation de boutiquiers” – a nation of shopkeepers.

crisis management copywriting

Tesco wants to put horsemeat behind it.

The recent horsemeat scandal has rocked faith in supermarkets and supply chains.

Roll in the crisis manegement experts.

One move from the classic crisis playbook is the full page newspaper advertisement / apology.

We don’t really like corporations but when they (or their agency) write well, we pay credit. This ain’t half bad – for a company that sold horsemeat. Would you be so conversational in a crisis? Hope so.

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Some wiki, wiki good copywriting

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great copy writing for fundraisers

There are few more successful nonprofit ventures.

We don’t know this thankyou letter from Wikipedia was written in-house or via an agency but it’s a great example of good fundraising copywriting. We have the great Tom Ahern to thank for bringing it to our attention. (If you fundraise, read Tom.)

If only all copy were as passionate, personal, grateful and grand as this. Great Wiki copy.

Our only criticism is that it might, just might be 100 or so words too long. But who cares? It’s great copy.




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Copy Savvy 101 webinar announced: $220 early bird discount.

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Hootville will hold a two-part Copy Savvy 101 webinar Tuesday December 4 and Tuesday December 11 2012. Each session lasts from 10am to 12.30 although participants will be able to replay them on-demand.

Last year’s session was a sell out so book soon to A) get in and B) enjoy our $220 early bird discount.

Warning: spelling and grammar barely rate a mention in this workshop. Audiences, headlines, captions, quotes and perceptions however will be discussed. So too will: developing a brief, finding your tone, writing for search engines, writing for social media and providing constructive feedback. This is hyper-practical and aimed squarely at securing donors, members and influence. More details and booking information.

There will be dozens of examples from the non-profit and corporate world; suggestions, interaction, laughter and tears.

The workshop is delivered by former reporter Brett de Hoedt who has written Sydney Morning Herald opinion pieces and game show questions to Cheap Eats restaurant reviews and on-hold messages. He’s edited membership magazines, written media releases, speeches and t-shirts slogans. Here is the toughest thing he ever wrote.

As with our other workshops we welcome up to six participants from the one organisation for the same price. A modest supplement is payable if you have more than six people participating.

The new two-part format keeps each session lively while the extended five-hour length means that there’s more time for learning, Q&A and writing exercises. And yes; there will be homework between week one and two.

Participants will be able to submit their work for review before session one, shall receive extensive notes post webinar and have access to four weeks on-call follow up coaching. They will be able to replay the webinar on-demand.

Not available on the day? Who cares?

Everyone who books the Copy Savvy 101 webinar will be able to replay the webinar on demand so if you’re not available on the day watch it at your convenience and we’ll make a time to talk through your questions afterwards. It will be just like being there. No excuses. In fact – why bother with the date at all? Book, watch and afterwards have a private Q&A with us. Isn’t that how online learning is supposed to work? More details and booking information.

How do I access a webinar?

The ‘webinar’ is basically a password protected web page, so if you have internet access you can access the webinar. The audio can come via your computer or via teleconference. You will also be able to type questions and comments as the webinar progresses. More details and booking information.


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Give big numbers meaning. One great example included.

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Have you heard? Apparently a century or so of rampant economic growth and disregard for Mother Nature has us all in peril and the planet’s dying quick. No, really. We’ll at least now you know. More bad news: fixing this mess will cost a LOT of money.

One team of erstwhile scientists has tallied up how many dollars it would take to right these wrongs and this week issued a report which values the worth of the threatened environment in the trillions and the cost to fix it in the tens of billions annually.

One problem with presenting numbers so big, about issues so overwhelming and remote is that they can become meaningless. It becomes too easy for a fat westerner, sitting in front of his plasma, smartphone in one hand, Diet Coke in the other to say; “Whatever.”

It’s the copywriter’s role to make the figures hit home with audiences.

copywriting advice

What a cunning way to explain how achieveable this HUGE task actually is. Kudos BirdLife International.

Left is how BirdLife International’s copywriter brought meaning to the numbers. Who cares if nature’s intrinsic value has nothing to do with soft drinks? It works.

Two omnipresent Australian examples are the MCG – which is used thus: “The disease affects 200,000 people – enough to fill the MCG twice over.” And Sydney Harbour which is used thus: “The desalination plant creates enough briney waste water to fill Sydney Harbour three times.” Not bad, but it’s time to find some new examples as good as this one.

Want five hours of copywriting advice?



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Good copywriting examples

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No doubt about it – this is good copy. Well a good headline at least. The rest is awful but let’s look at the positives:

Good copywriting example

Well HAVE you ever not read a text? HAVE you?

1. It takes advantage of every copywriter’s go-to tactic – the rhetorical question. We like rhetoricals because they connect with the audience.

2. It confidently delivers a truth (advertising folk sometimes call it an “insight”) which may just give the reader pause for thought. In this case the insight is that text messages DO get read.

Anytime you give a reader pause for thought you have a chance to persuade them. You may also gain something akin to the reader’s respect for telling them something they didn’t already know.

After the headline the rest is pretty awful and yes, even we can spot some grammatical errors. Still; that headline is a winner.

great copywriting examples

Opening paragraphs like this aren't written everyday.

We truly love this great copywriting on the left for several reasons. That opening paragraph is a show stopper. We present it as part of our Copy Savvy 101 workshops and can report that 98% of our participants find it funny, attention-grabbing and disarming.

Additionally, we love it because it is exactly what you wouldn’t expect from the client (ABC Shops).  A brave copywriter submitted these words. Kudos to them.

Copywriting tip: when you have a left-of-centre idea never present it for appraisal by itself. Make it the third of three options when it will stand out against the vanilla opposition. This is especially true and easy to do when submitting alternative headlines or quotes for a media release. You may even deliberately choose to present two boring options as alternatives to your preferred, enzaned option. Yes we just made that word up. Feel free to use it.

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Great nonprofit marketing. Lessons for us all.

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The NDIS campaign Every Australian Counts continues to kick goals with test sites and growing public support.


nonprofit marketing examples

Note how the page places the anger-inspiring message right next to the simple call to action. Bravo.

This recent imagery from the campaign’s website is a text book example of simplifying a complex, devlishly detailed issue into a slam dunk issue: that some people are able to have just two showers a week. Frankly this is a simplistic statement and far from 100% true. Who cares? It’s true for many and it symbolises other indignities the disabled face.

Every Australian Counts could have watered down its argument, nuanced it, made it less confronting. Thank goodness it didn’t. Let the meek inherit the Earth – they won’t know what to do with it anyway.

Our only unsolicited advice would be that such a bold statement requires more explanation. Regular sympathetic folk may wonder why disabled people only have two showers weekly. Well inadequate access to carers at the right time of day means only two showers weekly. As it stands, the copy is attention-grabbing but a little confusing.

Another positive is that the campaign opted for strong, clear, symbolic imagery and design. Bravo. Would it have been even stronger with imagery of someone waiting beside a shower? That’s for Design Court to decide.

nonprofit marketing course

Get 'em angry , then give them a way to take action. And don't let 'em leave your site until you've extracted their email.

Left is another execution of the same idea, this time focussing on the one item every abled body person understands – wheelchairs. More good nonprofit marketing. Again, the claim requires more explanation.

The copy, cleverly plays on readers’ patriotism. It’s not anti-Australian but implies that the current services for disabled Australians are not what we’d expect. Cunning.  

It looks like Australians with a disability are finally finding their mojo. Queensland and Victoria’s Premiers were both taken aback by the level of condemnation they received for holding out on establishing test sites. Even commercial talkback radio abounded with angry calls.

With the disabled up and angry the next great ignored, unserved and misunderstood minority should be taking notes and taking action. The aged. It’s possible and it’s about time.

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SEO tip. Copywrite this.

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We’ve mentioned this before but we need to make it clearer. The websites that will continue to rise in search engine results are those which supply continually updated, relevant information and articles within their website.

We recommend folding most of your new copy into your news section. We recommend classifying many things as news – from new courses, to new staff apointmnebnts, awards, media coverage of your issue – the lot. This makes the news section a go-to area for regular visitors.   

Abundant, fresh content helps in two ways – it gives people material to spread via their social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google’s +1 which search engines love and it also gives people a reason to keep coming back to your site.

OK – so you haven’t got the time or inspiration to come up with fresh copy all day long. Here are some content suggestions:

website copy tip

Skim, condense and pour out media coverage. They'll drink it up.

Media monitoring: using Google alerts and your own media consumption, you can highlight media coverage of your issues (not your organisation necessarily, just your issues) to visitors. Throw in an explanation of the coverage (“The Courier Mail has a story about early childhood intervention waiting lists today: www…”) PLUS at least a line (would 500 words kill you?) of comment about the story. This adds credibility for both Google and the reader.

Hardcore SEO types will be sure to insert an image of the article onto your webpage and to fill in details for the image when inserting it. (WordPress has half a dozen fields to enter when inserting any image which is bothersome but helps search engines.)

Your readers will love you filtering the news for them and by offering a comment you look like experts. Media loves that too.

regular updates make good copywriting

Report on your progress - or lack thereof

Regular monitoring and reporting

Transparency is sexy. No really. Too few organisations regularly boast about securing new donors, participants, subscribers, staff, volunteers etc. We’d recommend monthly updates on all these.

Why? Because monitoring these issues, highlights these issues. Eg: mentioning that you scored three new monthly donors is a reminder that you want monthly donors. Regular updates create good regular, fresh copy with lots of keywords. Do it now and stop coming across like an organisation that doesn’t need everyone’s help. You should appear to be a living, breathing entity.

website copy suggestions

Imagine writing a note to every pollie who speaks of your issue, every time. Good for your profile?

Hansard: do you listen to Parliament much? Shame on you. In that case why not run a regular search of hansard for mention of your key issues? Again, you can summarise key mentions of your issue and attach your expert comment. One thing for sure – the pollies making the comments will quickly learn that they have been mentioned on your site. You look important, you bring your readers information they’d otherwise have missed and you get noticed by the right people.

Website content suggestion

Magazines do it for the same reasons - simple, regular, easily-digestible content.


Q&A: create a regular Q&A of 20 questions like this from the Good Weekend above. Throw in some serious questions relating to your issues and some silly questions too. Ask interesting people to answer them. Publish the most interesting 12 answers and a headshot. Approach some VIPs as you’ll be hard to refuse and the process will get you noticed by them. Aim for one a month. Simple.

PR advice

Roll out the poll.

Monthly polls: each month you ask a new question and report back on the results of the previous poll. Simple. Use Survey Monkey or, preferably a poll application from within your content management system.

Annual reports are a source of web copy

Short on inspiration for copy? Take nuggets from your annual reports and magazines.

Annual reports and membership magazines:  Once published and quickly forgotten; these labour-intensive obligations are just waiting to be rehashed as fresh copy for the news section of your website.

See? Content is easy. And once you have the content flowing, be sure to add Sexy Bookmarks, as we have below to make sharing your content easy. And of course feel free to share this.

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