Insightful sessions, a strong feeling of community and hula-hooping… There was something for everyone at Copycon 2022.
Copywriting can be a lonely gig. Here at Writers, we’re lucky to have our colleagues on hand to spot our typos, listen to what we did on the weekend and grab us a double-shot latte when we’re racing to meet a deadline. But the same is not true for most.
In October 2022, freelance and in-house copywriters converged on the Kirribilli Club in Sydney for Copycon – Australia’s only copywriting conference. Organised by the wonderful Kate Toon and her team, the conference was a rare opportunity for copywriters to get out of their onesies and mingle with their fellow word nerds. There was a warm and welcoming atmosphere, delicious food, and plenty to learn. Here are three things I learned from the day.
1. Diversity is a strength – for everyone
Throughout her presentation The Multicultural Copywriter: A Sundae not Plain Vanilla, Rashida Tayabali was insightful and thought provoking. Drawing on her personal experiences, Rashida pointed out that while we have come a long way when it comes to promoting diversity and inclusion, there is still more we can be doing.
She talked about how important it is to her personally, as a woman of colour, to be recognised and appreciated for everything she brings to the table – while not having to hide any part of herself to fit in. And we all know diversity is a business strength, with benefits spanning profitability, brand reputation, creativity and problem solving.
So how can we do better? Here are Rashida’s five suggestions for championing diversity, equity and inclusion – and they also happen to be pretty good guidelines for being an all-round decent human and colleague:
1. Develop a genuine interest: Get to know people you’re dealing with – ask questions about them.
2. Ask better questions: Educate yourself and learn as much as you can about the person you’re working with.
3. Don’t pretend to know more than you do: This will come across – be honest about what you do and don’t know.
4. Active listening: Listen to understand – not to reply. If you don’t understand, ask more questions.
5. Educate yourself: There are lots of resources out there on diversity, equity and inclusion that you can read.
2. Get your facts straight – or else
Self-confessed fact-check-a-holic Jonathan Crossfield took us through his top fact checking tips and pointers in Show your work: The pedantic yet essential art of fact-checking.
Trust is a crucial element of any successful business, but if you’re putting out false information, trust can be eroded – and your credibility gone.
As writers, we’re often learning at the same time as we’re writing – we might know as much about the topic as our audience, but certainly not as much as an expert.
However, clients also expect us to fact as we go. Even if we’re relying on some stats they pulled off the internet and plonked into the brief.
Here’s some guiding principles – follow these, and we can all help each other share more credible research, quotes or stats.
- Where? Find the original source, not a third-hand mention in a blog post. Even if the stat was mentioned in a reputable publication, that doesn’t always mean it’s accurate.
- When? Make the original information date clear in your copy or footnotes – especially when it’s more than a couple of years old. When you dig deeper, you might discover that customer experience stat pre-dated Amazon – making it quite possibly irrelevant.
- What? Someone (maybe Mark Twain, but that’s in dispute – see below) once said, there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” It’s easy to misinterpret what client survey or report data means, especially for us writers who would rather think in words than numbers. So be wary of rattling off stats to support a particular viewpoint.
- Who? Quotes can give your writing more authority, but only if they’re attributed correctly. It’s just as important to make sure quotes are not taken out of context. Just like verifying stats, when verifying quotes always go back to the original source.
3. The not-so-subtle art of the social media hook
Hooking people in on social media is challenging, especially when you have a limited amount of space and attention span. Andrew Hubbard’s session, Creative copywriting for social media ads that convert, was a Facebook and Instagram algorithm epiphany –packed with tips on how you can get more value from paid advertising as well as organic results.
It’s all about creating a great hook, and that’s true of any headlines we write. Here’s two thought-starters.
1. Lead with a controversial or contrarian opinion. Something that’s unique and likely to appeal to your audience, even if it polarises. For example, a statement like “Game of Thrones is the worst TV show in the last 40 years…” is likely to get attention.
2. Start an interesting story in the headline. But don’t resolve it. The reader will click on your ad to ‘close’ the loop. When using this technique for social media, think about where the headline will cut off. It needs to be in exactly the right place to give enough of the story to create the interest, but leave enough to compel the reader to click through.
It was so refreshing to be part of a broader like-minded community for the day – sharing experiences and ideas. It also reminded me of the value we all bring to our clients, the many different ways we can put one word in front of another to grab attention, change people’s minds, or make them smile.
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