Prince Harry and the Information Disorder Crisis

You’ve been writing a blog for months, banged out the copy for your website and fired off enough press releases to crash a server but you’ve not had the impact you thought you would. What has gone wrong?

COPYWRITING COPYWRITING TIPS PRINCE HARRY

Mr Michael Cobb

2021-03-25 3 min read

You’ve been writing a blog for months, banged out the copy for your website and fired off enough press releases to crash a server, and yet you’ve not had the impact you thought you would. What has gone wrong?

If you are talking directly to your reader’s needs, then there probably isn’t that much wrong really. But great copy is also about avoiding the cliches and making a good impression up front. Easy to get wrong, hard to get right. These are the blunders I love to hate.

Positive bio-chemical response vs Love.

This is a press release put out by the Aspen Commission announcing Prince Harry’s appointment to supposedly quoting Harry himself.

“It's my belief that this is a humanitarian issue—and as such, it demands a multi-stakeholder response from advocacy voices, members of the media, academic researchers, and both government and civil society leaders. I'm eager to join this new Aspen commission and look forward to working on a solution-oriented approach to the information disorder crisis."

While I’ve picked on a press release I’ve highlighted the common problems in a lot of poor copy, ‘management speak.’ For example, what even is an information disorder crisis? And I guess a solution-oriented approach is probably trying to say ‘solving’ the problem. So why not just say that?

To most readers this language doesn’t sound professional and says nothing about what you actually do. That is the opposite of good copy. More often than not the English language has a word everyone knows for the phrase someone has made up in bad copy. Use them, for the best multi-stakeholder response.

Intros no-one has ever said.

I’m picking on the press release - again -  because it is often the worst for this particular faux pas. I can too often feel secure in skipping the first line, because I can predict it will say, ”We are delighted to announce…” Sadly I can’t bin them, but I would if I could.

Think back to the time when your partner came home to say, ‘I am delighted to say I have done well at work’. I’m guessing you can’t. That’s because people don’t sound like that, especially senior managers of successful businesses.

A press release is like any other copy, it needs to grab attention from the first line and make people read on. Don’t use a template given to you during your degree course or culled from the web. A unique voice will sell your release from the first line. Listen to your client or boss and how they speak, if they say they are ‘reet chuffed’ about the news, then use it. It’s unique, striking and will grab the journalist’s attention. And you’ll be delighted at the result.

KISS, LOL

Whatever industry you work in you have learned a number of acronyms and abbreviations over the years. Text speak has added to that with all of its LOLs, ROTFLs and WTFs. The problem is you can’t guarantee that the reader of your website or marketing materials has any idea what you are talking about.

In you’re targeting businesses you can get away with a few more, but it is still a balancing act. Someone in an investment bank is likely to know what a CMBS is, but if you are an intelligence consultancy trying to sell your services to an investment bank they might not know what a CHIS is, even after watching too much Line of Duty. Using text speak is frowned on, but can work on occasion. Personality is important.

When talking to consumers avoiding industry specific abbreviations is even more important, though you will get away with far more text speak. Unless your target audience are older than methuselah, then you will just get them confused.

Stringing more than one abbreviation into a sentence is a definite wrong step though.

So, IRT TLAs as a way to sell your USP in JITM using ADIA and SEO, I just would just KISS. Yes, that does actually mean something, but I’ll leave you to look it up.

As even the marketing professionals have shown, getting copy right is harder than it looks. A good copywriter should be offering you not simply good writing, but excellent research skills and a little bit more than you’d think of psychology. Avoiding the pitfalls of bad copy is best left to the professionals. Unlike dealing with the information disorder crisis, anyone can do that, whatever it is.

Mike Cobb Copywriter

Cobb Communications Ltd.

Vat registered: 372 6181 91

South Woodford- London - United Kingdom - E18