Social Media and the ‘Know-It-All’ Culture

Social Media and the ‘Know-It-All’ Culture

Some would say it’s great that social media gives everyone a voice. Others would argue that it leaves everyone open to abuse. There’s no doubting that trolling is an issue. And bad language is for the most part just that: bad language that only reflects badly on the writer. No-one wants online censorship. On the other hand, there’s something of the Wild West culture about the Internet – and the predominance of social media only serves to exacerbate that. We see social media at its worst in moral and political debate where there are plenty of half-baked ideas and opinions on display. Yet who am I – or anyone else for that matter – to say what’s right or wrong? Doesn’t everyone have the right to disagree? And if we don’t like the cut of someone’s jib, why don’t we simply ignore them rather than becoming embroiled in an online slanging match? Despite what the world beyond the Appalachians may think of Donald Trump, hasn’t this man given a certain legitimacy to using Twitter? He claims it’s his way around the dissemination of ‘fake news’. Roll up folks and read all about it: Trump-style. Maybe it’s just me, but it looks suspiciously like there’s been an increase in the number of British politicians taking to Twitter. Like everyone else, they know you can poke your head above the parapet, fire a few salvoes, and then retreat to your trench. Yes, it’s all a bit cowardly (like the online bullying that’s rife among school-age children). Of course, we can all choose to ignore social media but it’s become such an... Read more...
Brochure Copywriters – Are They A Lost Tribe?

Brochure Copywriters – Are They A Lost Tribe?

COPYWRITING SHORTS #106 You won’t find many copywriters up the Orinoco. Then again, the locals’ need for printed brochures probably isn’t what it was. (That’s assuming of course that online marketing has permeated rain forests far and wide.)   You’ll certainly see many examples of online brochures here in the UK. Their offline cousins are still in play, but they’ve been relegated to a more supportive role in the marketing mix. It wasn’t always thus. Right up to the 1990s, B2B companies used suites of brochures to flag-up their product ranges. Holiday companies churned out door-stopping editions to cater for every season, whilst estate agents could always be relied upon to excel in the brochure department. Nowadays, you’re more likely to see brochures as PDF attachments. Many of the same offline copywriting skills are used – not to mention the stock photography and graphics which have always been the minimal mainstay of a half-way decent brochure. What were once regarded as ‘sales aids’ in their printed format are now very much an adjunct to a company’s website. Having a capacity to go into great detail on any particular topic has always been a great strength of brochures. For example, you can always get a feel for an attractive property for sale on the Rightmove website. For a full-cream version, however, there’s no substitute for a well-produced printed brochure. Plenty of marketing people overlook the power of brochures, hence the latter-day put down of purely informative websites as being merely ‘brochure sites’. And yet, they’ve always been a tangible treasure you could whip out – anytime, anywhere (to paraphrase Martini!).... Read more...
Property Copywriter Eyes Global House Prices

Property Copywriter Eyes Global House Prices

  As a property copywriter and former Sydney resident, I take more than a passing interest in the Australian ‘property bubble’. In recent months, I’ve also been watching how house prices have risen in other capital cities.   If you think UK prices are unsustainable, take a look at places like Hong Kong, Auckland, Vancouver, New York and – yes – Sydney! In Australia, they blame the Federal Government for limiting land supply. This is a bit rich when you consider that around 90% of the huge Australian landmass is virtually uninhabited! In Hong Kong, you can see what the problem is. This small part of China is ridiculously over-populated – much like the Chinese mainland itself of course. What about New Zealand? The South Island is all big skies and National Geographic – so what could possibly be the issue there? Is it to do with everyone seeing Kiwi-land as the most civilized bolt-hole on the planet? Or is the reality more to do with Chinese investors piling into Auckland?   What About Affordability? When it comes to house prices, why hasn’t ‘the affordability factor’ kicked in? Why haven’t we seen any price crashes? Surely one day the markets will wake up to the fact that ordinary residents of the world’s great cities (as opposed to the migratory super-rich) can no longer afford to live and work in these places? In cities like London and New York, we’ve seen the steady gentrification of former working-class areas where house prices have rocketed and local cultures emasculated. This strange form of ethnic cleansing has seen established populations driven out by... Read more...
Skyscrapers or Bungalows? How Dense Can You Get?

Skyscrapers or Bungalows? How Dense Can You Get?

We’ve all heard the joke about ‘Bungalow Bill’, the well-endowed lover who doesn’t have much upstairs. What we don’t hear much about is how the single-storey staple of 1960s house builders became a virtual laughing stock barely half a century later.     Instructive in understanding this phenomenon is to look back, not so much in anger, but in suspended disbelief. When it came to house building in the 60s, Britain dreamed big. It also dreamed gentle. The competing notions of thrusting modernistic tower blocks conflicted culturally with sedate single-level bungalows. In those days, of course, there wasn’t the same pressure to build as many homes as possible on whatever land was available. Housing density simply wasn’t an issue. Having said that, the idealism that reigned in some local authority quarters made a massive impact. ‘Building high’ came straight out of Central Planning where town hall apparatchiks had likely gorged on too much Aldous Huxley. Bungalows, on the other hand, were for dreamers of a different ilk – earnest, almost-middle-class types, fattened on a televisual feast of stateside colonial clapboard and a picket-fenced Stepford Wives utopia. Fast forward 60 years where we inhabit another world. Today, the multi-storey concrete-slab temples of Bauhaus-inspired civic pride are hugely discredited – despite still featuring prominently in urban planning future-scapes. For totally different reasons, the bungalow (on the face of it) looks like a spent shilling. To confirm its apparent indigence as a design concept, the National House Building Council tells us that only one per cent of homes built in the UK in 2014 were bungalows.   Why So? It wasn’t always... Read more...
Property Copywriting at Quarter 3, 2016

Property Copywriting at Quarter 3, 2016

Prophets of Doom still stalk the Land of Opportunity. As yet, the lights are still off and prospects for the post-Brexit property sector are uncertain. UK copywriters are holding their breath! This is all a great pity. When you consider that private housebuilding is worth an estimated £30 billion per year to the British economy, any further shocks could leave a big sinkhole in pro-Brexit expectations. At Nationwide, the country’s biggest building society, the jury is out regarding near-term prospects for the housing market. By the time you read this, the Bank of England may have reduced interest rates and reverted to Quantitative Easing. To keep the house-building show on the road – and the estimated 250,000 jobs that depend on its success – it may be that local authorities and housing associations will need to pick up the baton. If not, recession could be just that little bit nearer. Interest rates will be rock bottom of course, and fixed-term mortgages will be tempting for those in secure employment – and with a big, fat deposit. Who knows whether house prices will remain stubbornly high?   A confusing picture In London, the rate of price increases is slowing – and not before time. For the rest of the country, ripples from the London market will probably arrive within a few months. For first-time buyers, this is good news. For investors and others, probably less so. Rightmove, the online property portal, has suggested we should all hold our nerve: ‘Worries of a slowing UK housing market and potential closure of estate agents are overdone,’ they say. It looks like we’ll... Read more...
Copywriting – The Champion of Change

Copywriting – The Champion of Change

‘Change’ is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment. You’ll probably hear it whispered in the same breath as Brexit. The good news is: business will always adapt to economic change – and, as the handmaiden of marketing, copywriting will never be far behind. For copywriters, ‘change’ is a way of life. First came the Internet; then Google; then SEO. All of these changes, and more, transformed the world of copywriting in little more than a decade. In this context, Brexit is little more than a blip. Dare it be said: the word ‘opportunity’ has even been heard in some quarters!   ‘Opportunity’ Is The Brexit Keyword The enforced changes we all have to face in the post-Brexit era will bring new and unexpected opportunities for those who are ready to exploit them. In the world of business, that means new and improved marketing. In the world of marketing, it means persuasive copywriting, inviting content and innovative channels that will best bring piggy to market. Bear in mind that this is a new scenario where consumers’ pockets could well be raided by a depleted pound, rising inflation and a receding economy. With a little judicious aforethought, however, copywriting will stand out as the most flexible tool for achieving marketing success. New opportunities exist in new markets. For existing customers, fresh approaches can be devised to out-strip the competition. Anyone who runs or manages a business will be on the lookout for OPPORTUNITY. And although the dust has far from settled on the UK’s rapidly evolving political and economic landscape, those who are prepared to take measured risks will... Read more...