“The single biggest problem in communication…”

“is the illusion that it has taken place,” said George Bernard Shaw. Yesterday, however, I was under no illusion. Communication had NOT taken place.

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It was ME, by the way, lacking in the communication department. No-one else. Me.

I’d started on a new project over the weekend. ‘A monster pitch,’ as described by the agency.

This was not meant to imply that I was pitching TO or FOR monsters.

Fantasy-Monster-with-Multiple-Arms

Neither was it meant to mean that the pitch was monstrous, dreadful. (Perhaps that’s where the seed of doubt was sown in my mind, if I thought that?)

It was simply BIG. Important.

I sent off my preliminary work on Sunday. Heard nothing until late Monday. It was a ‘Thanks for this and could you do more?’ And ‘Let’s talk about this tomorrow.’

I thought I’d already done what was required. So then I assumed I must have done it WRONG…that my work was unsatisfactory, that I hadn’t understood the brief.

A sensible person would do this: First thing in the morning, she would get on the phone to the agency and find out what was what, then move forward in full possession of all the facts, whatever they may be. Be in communication.

Shame I’m not always very sensible.

I spent the entire morning and the early part of the afternoon Doing Other Things – pure displacement activity. And always, at the back of my mind, or at the front…concern, anxiety, incipient panic.

‘Get a grip, Caroline,’ I might have said to myself. But I didn’t.

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…until 3.15  (after I’d suddenly remembered I must make a hair appointment and pay my horse insurance.) THREE FIFTEEN.  More than six hours after I’d started work.

…when I phoned the agency, had a four minute chat, was reassured and ready for the next stage.

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Let’s hear it for being in communication!

P.S. Have a nice day? Grrrrrrrrr (see yesterday’s post)

 

Pause you wretched weakling and take stock of your miserable existence

You are WRONG St. Benedict. Wrong, wrong wrong!

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By Heidi Haverkamp.
Because it made me smile.

Well, mostly you are wrong, St. Benedict. Except for the need to take stock. Oh, and the need to pause.

The wrong bits:

  • I am NOT a wretched weakling
  • My existence is NOT miserable

So – I am getting loads of new commissions and interest in my copywriting. Loads.

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JobS, actually.

This is wonderful. I’m very grateful. And, dare I say it?…Oh, okay then, I will…I am proud of myself. All this is as a result of my networking, sharing and marketing, which took courage for me to do. It doesn’t come naturally to me. (Perhaps St. B was right. Perhaps I AM a wretched weakling after all?)

It’s also to do with the quality of my work. No amount of interest will result in commissions unless the work is good enough. More than good enough. It has to be excellent.

As a copywriter, I have noticed there are two states of potential panic:

  1. When you haven’t got enough work
  2. When you have got enough work

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I’m in sector 2.

I’m in danger of a bit of a meltdown – although my work will never be compromised, dear clients. Just – I won’t have a life.

Time to pause.

Time to take stock.

Time to organise.

Staying sane with a bouncing brain

Me yesterday. Bouncing brain and staying sane.

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Boing, boing, boing…

Heaps of work to do, in parallel. My decision – to rotate.

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No NOT like THAT! That and the bouncing brain too? Instant nausea.

I mean, rotate tasks. Each project split neatly into sections, so I’d do a piece about clinical interventions in mental health…then I’d do a piece about mortgages…then I’d work on double-glazing (so much more transparent than a desk!)… then…back to clinical interventions.

See? Bouncing brain!

The good bit – I never got bored. Not the slightest hint of drowsiness.

The potential pitfall – I might have confused my subject matter.

Knowledge concept

© Orlando Florin Rosu – Fotolia.com

Yeah!  “Release some equity from your property with a remortgage, install double-glazing in your head and you too can sail through your International Personality Disorder Examination.”

But I didn’t. Confuse my subject areas, that is. You’ll be relieved to hear.

Bouncing brain or not…

 

Writing adverts

Some days I spend writing adverts. I love it. Luckily for me, I haven’t lost the passion for making words work.

“To create good selling copy, advertisement writers must be bubbling over with enthusiasm.”

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“A day’s work with the glow of magic fire…”

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by Alena Klementeva

“is worth a week of galley slave plugging.”

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“Real copy “artists” are self-hypnotists.”

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From Judicious Advertising magazine, 1912

Nineteen twelve!

Here’s an advertisement from 1912:

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Attractive advert…shame about the product.

Writing adverts is fun.

As long as mine don’t sink without trace!

Why you need to update your website

Update your website? Come on, Caroline, give us a break.

It’s the first day back at work after the holidays for many of us – those lucky enough to have more than Christmas Day off.

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Now those New Year’s resolutions really begin to bite. It’s one thing going on a mid-afternoon run in the sunshine to fulfil your fitness quota , quite another when it has to be done at 5 a.m. in the dark and rain, before you catch the 6.05 to London Bridge.

(Caroline has lightbulb moment: Running machines on commuter trains!)

Here’s a business resolution for you that is a no-brainer. And needn’t cause physical pain.

Update your website!

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Yeah, yeah, that old chestnut always churned out by job-seeking copywriters and web designers.

Have it your own way, people, but first, consider THIS

GE Capital Retail Bank undertook a consumer survey.  81% of respondents said they researched online before making a purchase.

Yes…

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Are you happy that 81% of your potential customers will look at your website and see…well, what will they see? Stale copy? Last year’s news? Outdated images? Redundant facts? A blog that was written in July 2013?

At risk of repeating myself: UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE! You know it makes sense.

It’s not a resolution that will help you lose weight or run a marathon.

It IS a resolution that will ensure that you don’t risk losing customers because they look at your site and think…’Hmmmmm, well if THAT’S an illustration of their professionalism and attention to detail… thanks, but no thanks, I’ll go elsewhere.’

I’m a copywriter. I’m busy. I’m not so busy that I couldn’t take on YOUR WEBSITE.

Contact me at: cacoxon@gmail.com

I’ll carry out your New Year’s resolution for you. How good is that?

 

 

 

Copywriting resolutions

Copywriting resolutions? What, you mean, like, get more clients?

Nope, not for me – at least, not as a primary goal.

“A writer should be joyous, an optimist . . . Anything that implies rejection of life is wrong for a writer,” said George Gribbin, one time chairman of Young & Rubicam, the advertising agency.

Amen to that!

So – the first of my copywriting resolutions – Write  joyously.

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Spinning by Donna Howard

Last year, I think I proved it’s possible to write joyously about mortgages, probate, wills and financial services. I loved doing that – so, in 2014, bring on more challenges!

“The secret of all effective advertising is not the creation of new and tricky words and pictures, but one of putting familiar words and pictures into new relationships” – from Leo Burnett, another advertising executive.

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A fabulous description of the work, leading to the second of my copywriting resolutions – Write  boldly.

Last but not least…

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Stop writing for peanuts!

Last year, I turned down two jobs – pay derisory… That might seem like a small thing to some people, but to me, a freelance writer, it was HUGE.

If you haven’t already, please read this excellent article by Linda Formichelli, The Renegade Writer and all-round guru (to me.)

On Writing For Peanuts

A little extract – “I do not believe that writers who work for cheap are depressing the rates for professional writers…It’s like saying that McDonald’s grill-jockeys are depressing the rates for master chefs.”

That’s me and my copywriting resolutions, then.

Write joyously. Write boldly. Stop writing for peanuts.

happy writer

 

 

Copywriting – the best job in the world?

“Work without love is slavery,” said Mother Teresa, I’m guessing not about copywriting.

Steve Jobs, not yet in line for sainthood, said this: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”

Sometimes, when things get a little stressy, when I’ve got more copywriting to do than there are hours in the day…I forget.

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I really do. I’m very lucky and I’ll never take that for granted.

For the cynics amongst you:

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Hah!

Copywriting is so varied,  sometimes mind-bendingly challenging, moving, funny, complicated, serious, joyful, dull needing sparkle…

I love playing with words…

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Playing with words – DDB Dusseldorf

and copywriting allows me to do that, all day, every day

AND get paid for it (mostly!)

What’s not to like?

Organising is what you do before you do something

…so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.

Wise words about organising. That’s from A.A. Milne. Winnie the Pooh. You know – a children’s book. I should’ve taken more notice when I was 6.

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Pooh Bear organising a picnic

When I’m not very busy, I’m terribly organised. But then, I don’t have any need to be.

When I AM very busy, I do a lot of organising to make sure everything goes according to plan.

What happens is that the little things get missed off my list and they can have a HUGE impact. In fact, thinking about it, the little things don’t get missed off my list because they’re entirely unforeseen.

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The presentation on Friday.

I’d done an inordinate amount of organising. Everything was set, just, even though the laptop seemed to be running at glacial speed. Minutes before I was due to start, I had A THOUGHT.

That thought was: “I can’t remember where I left my coat and handbag.”

That thought developed.

“Oh noooooo. My wallet’s in there. There’s a load of cash and my bank cards…I’ll have to cancel them. Driving licence. What a hassle that will be. And my mobile phone. All my contacts. Gone. And my car keys. How am I going to get to the funeral if I can’t find my car keys? How stupid I am. Why can’t I just be more organised? Pete’s always saying I’m an utter ditz. Well, he’s right, isn’t he? ”

So, when I started the presentation, I had to FIGHT to focus on it, not the whereabouts of my handbag and coat.

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What’s that got to do with organising?

Everything!

The importance of being present.

There’s very little point in organising something so carefully and being so focused on one thing that you’re not present to the world around you and your actions in that world.

Ages and ages ago, I discovered a brilliant book about organising yourself.

It’s hard to make a difference when you can’t find your car keys

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I worked with it for a while. Things were going better. Then I couldn’t find it…(don’t laugh!)

I’ve found it again, just now. I’m going to work with the ideas.

I want to make a difference in the world.

 

Presentation skills – Proper Planning Prevents Pitifully Poor Performance

For Pitifully read…that other word.

Tomorrow, I’m giving a 10-minute presentation about my job as a copywriter.

This is my motto.

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Oh, I’m so very prepared for this. (Well, I will be by 6.30 tomorrow morning)

“A good presenter is one who learns the skills of presentations – not one who hopes for talent to carry them,” says George Torok, executive speech coach. That’s something I could take on board. It’s a possible pitfall to believe you can wing it. What if you can’t? You’ve nothing to fall back on – except possibly the floor, in embarrassment.

George Torok’s advice is interesting. Parts of it made me laugh. Like this…

“Emergency Preparation – Check the exit doors and paths from the building.”

I took this to mean that if the presentation was going extremely badly, your escape route would be planned.

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No, it means that if the building catches fire, your audience will look to you for “leadership and maybe their lives.”

My goodness. There’s more to this presentation lark than I had anticipated.

Further advice from George : “Expose a flaw.”

I have an unsightly blemish on my left shoulder blade but I’m not sure if I… Oh, not THAT sort of flaw…

The flaw that you’re rubbish at delivering a presentation?

My biggest fear is that Technology Will Let Me Down. The PowerPoint presentation I’ve carefully saved onto the laptop will have mysteriously disappeared. The projector won’t work.  The screen will collapse. There’ll be a powercut.

I shall just remember the wise words of  Stephen Keague

“No audience ever complained about a presentation or speech being too short.” 

And head for the fire exit.

I shall know exactly where that is.

Because I have prepared so carefully for my presentation.

How to convert MP4 to AVI when you’re not a techie geek

Convert MP4 to AVI? I need to do this for a PowerPoint presentation.

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Caroline Coxon’s easy guide.

  1. Panic
  2. Eat a packet of chocolate buttons
  3. Look for free file converter download on the internet

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4. Panic

5. Wish I had another packet of chocolate buttons

6. Find a different program online

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7. Panic

8. Try to use file converter program, with only partial success

9. Lose the will to live

10. Call out “Tim…can you come and help me please?”

Tim

Then Tim presses a few buttons here and there and…

Convert MP4 to AVI is GO!

Easy!

Now to convert a YouTube video to AVI…

Should I just start at point number 10?