Friday, May 29, 2009

Drops of Blood on the Forehead

"Writing is easy: all you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead..." Gene Fowler.

As one who has shed copious gallons of blood writing for clients (and for other purposes) I can attest to the truth of this phrase. So why do we do it? Because after the blood-letting, the words glowing on the page (or screen) are so magical, so beautifully crafted, so amazingly evocative, that clients (and other interested parties) are clamoring to part with vast amount of green stuff for the right to use them. Ha!
That's the for the practice. There is no easy way to create good copy. It is only after years of experience, accumulating knowledge and technique, learning the ropes under the lash of monstrous editors and even more demonic clients, that you learn how to string together a series of letters that will leap off the page and make the chosen reader jump up and shout "Oh my God!" (apologies to Mark Twain).
THIS is the reaction you aim for, whether you are writing copy to sell a pencil set or a new fangled incredibly complicated high-tech software system. But this reaction can only be achieved if you remember that at the heart of ANY promotional campaign - product, service, political platform - there lies a basic truth that, to have any hope of being effective, must be conveyed to the target audience:

"Buy this product, get this benefit!"

This is the fundamental Rock of Ages for ANY PR, advertising or marketing effort. Forget this basic tenet at your peril. And I don't really care what medium you use: print, TV, or the Internet; web pages, exhibitions or billboards, Facebook or Shmaisbook. Your target audience is going to need an irresistibly compelling reason to part with its money, or change its attitudes, or adopt a particular social or political standpoint.
You can dress up communication (no "s" please), in any way you like. Call it Social Networking or New Media or traditional media, old PR or Digital PR, advertising or advertorial, the final objective is the same...
And this, my dear readers is where those of us dragged up in the old school of newspaper journalism, advertising copywriting and hard core PR, fighting for every inch of column space, having sacrificed our lifeblood on the alter of creative writing, are better equipped to make the most of the new media - to make that leap across the digital divide (see my earlier blog: and create REAL value for our clients; through creating attention-grabbing, informative, desirable information that results in action - i. e. sales!

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