business writing

Five things you should know before dealing with the media

Guest post by Nicky Rudd, MD, Padua Communications

Dealing with journalists can be tricky – especially if you’re not used to it. I asked Nicky Rudd, seasoned PR practitioner and managing director of Padua Communications, to share her experience. 

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Client of the month: The Green Cornwall

OK. I admit it. Client of the month isn’t an original idea. I’ve pinched it from friend and frequent collaborator, Robert Games of Padmedia.  Thanks Rob!

I think it’s a great way to let you know what I do, and at the same time, tell you about some of the lovely, inspiring people I work with. And no prizes for guessing how often I’ll be posting it ..

First up is The Green Cornwall - luxury house and holiday cottages on the edge of Bodmin Moor.

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A cornucopia of collective nouns

I love Woop Studio’s collective noun posters.

These limited edition prints are visual depictions of some of the wonderful terms we use to name groups of things. They’re beautiful to look at as well as revealing quite often charming and evocative words such as:
a zeal of zebras
a blessing of unicorns (which I’m convinced are real by the way. I mean, why bother giving them a collective noun if they don’t exist?)
an aurora of polar bears (yes, really!)
a murder of crows
a murmuration of starlings (what a lovely word!). And my favourite if only because I’ve was privileged to see two of these rare Cornish birds in flight: a chattering or clattering of choughs

I could go on, but I won’t. I’ll just direct you to Woop’s website so you can become obsessed too.


Woop Studios was founded by Miraphora Mina, Eduardo Lima, Harriet Logan, and Mark Faulkner. United by a love of graphic design, words and images they set up Woop to showcase the fascinating and quirky world of collective nouns.

They aim to be the definitive website for anyone who shares their fascination, and who enjoy words, images and learning.

I hope you enjoy them too.

Grabbing the headlines

Grabbing the headlines

Whatever we think of the reporting standards in our national newspapers, they have given us some great headlines over the years.

One of my personal favourites is The Sun’s “Super Cally go ballasitc, Celtic are atrocious” following Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s 3-1 win over Celtic in the Scottish Cup in 2000.

I spotted one of a slightly more sophisticated nature on the front page of The Guardian in April and have been meaning to write a post based on it ever since. It accompanied a front-page story by the paper’s Paris correspondent, Angelique Chrisafis. She was writing about the alleged outrage of notorious French riot police – the Compagnie Repulicaines de Securite (CRS) on hearing they would no longer be allowed to drink alcohol with their lunch.

Apparently, up until now, even packed lunches provided to the CRS out of riot vans while they were patrolling demos, came with a can of beer or glass of wine. And the headline?

“Riot squad sees rouge as police vin gets bottled.”

It’s tempting to think that good headlines are the result of a flash of inspiration (an old stalwart, by the way, when I was Head of Press and PR for Nikon UK and writing about the company’s flashlights – yes I know, I know). But the majority of strong, memorable, and more importantly, effective headlines take time and a great deal of hard work.

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Wimbledon tennis commentators serve faulty phrase

So Wimbledon is over for another year and I’m trying to adjust to tennis-free days. One thing I won’t miss though is that horrible phrase ‘the business end’ that too many of the match commentators used too often.

I got tired of hearing, ‘well, we’re at the business end of the set now.’ Ugh. Not only is it plain ugly, but like all phrases that become over-used, it jars. You have to be very careful, in writing as well as in speech, about becoming reliant on certain distinctive words, phrases, and devices.

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Marketing confessions of a shy, retiring copywriter

When I saw Jupiter Jasper Marketing’s blogging competition, http://bit.ly/lpyv7p, I thought I’d give it a go and enter. For one it gives me a topic for a blog post – not always easy to find when you’re busy. And it’s a chance to share some of the things I’ve learnt in business. The topic for the competition is ‘My biggest lesson in marketing so far’, so here’s mine: consistency.

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Is ‘solutions’ the most over-used word in the dictionary?

It may only comprise eight letters but the word ‘solution’ can drive me to hysterical rants. I really do loathe it. It’s just so over-used in marketing copy, and worse still, as part of a company name.

Businesses seem to think it makes them sound dynamic and professional. Well it doesn’t. It makes them seem dull, unimaginative, dated, and as a PR friend of mine suggested – ‘lazy-brained’.

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Why choosing the right words is essential if you want to engage your audience

A lesson in subtlety from World War ll

courage-300px_1Writing copy for marketing materials is about much more than describing your business. In my post ‘Let me tell you a story’,  I wrote about the power of painting a picture for your audience and the importance of choosing words that will engage them.  Well, I’ve just come across a great example from the Second World War of why you need to keep your audience in mind all the time you’re writing.

The Home Publicity Division of The Ministry of Information managed to alienate its target audience with its first poster. Created to boost morale, the poster had the opposite affect because it read:

your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution will bring us Victory.’ Not surprisingly, it prompted people to wonder who exactly you and we were in that equation!

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Let me tell you a story

current_issue_summer2011I’ve just read a great article in Intelligent Life – The Economist’s quarterly magazine – by Robert Butler an arts and environmentalist blogger.

Basically it’s about getting your message across, and Butler uses environmentalists to make his point. Now, I’ve no idea whether or not this is true but he claims they have a tendency to hit people with stats, results and conclusions.

He says this closes the subject down and doesn’t allow the other person’s mind anywhere to go. His recommendation to Greens is to ditch information overload, “in favour of suggesting details that actually catch people’s interest and allow the other person to get involved.”

It’s good advice that also applies to our marketing materials.

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Jargon alert: mid-weight copywriter needed

Imagine my bewilderment when this turned up in my inbox earlier:

Seeking a mid-weight copywriter

Our client, a well-established beauty retailer, is looking for a mid-weight copywriter…

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Hello. I'm Elaine, I'm a copywriter and this is my blog.

It's mostly about words and writing - things that inspire me, entertain me, and make me smile. Sometimes it's about things that horrify me so much I want to scream and shout!

I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. And speaking of useful - scroll down and take a look at the Oxford Dictionaries tool.

Click here to find out a bit more about me.

Word Alchemy Blog