Guest blog from Rachel Williams, professional copywriter.
Years ago, when I worked in house at a design agency, I was kept busy not only with paid work but with requests from colleagues to help write letters, submit insurance claims and the like.
The requests were varied to say the least. I helped the guy in Production take on the might of Electrolux in order to get a replacement and full compensation for all the food that had been ruined when his brand new one broke down one Christmas. Another time, one of the new business team was desperate to get his elderly and frail parents moved into sheltered housing, was struggling to cut through all the red tape and asked me to help him prepare a report to convince the necessary agencies. The day he told me his parents were moving was a great moment.
More recently, I’ve found my writing skills coming to the fore in my voluntary role as a parent governor at my son’s school. During a period of change and uncertainty, I’ve introduced newsletters and other forms of communication to explain the situation and any developments. It’s impressed the local authority – they now intend to use our approach as a case study for other schools – and has kept parents and staff well informed.
And then I’ve just done a little bit of tidying up of a letter on behalf of someone who is organising a fundraising event for a charity and needs to get the support of local businesses. Oddly enough, the charity in question is one that – had I known it existed six years ago – would have given me a huge amount of support when my newborn fell ill and his first year of life was one of constant fear and worry. How could I not want to spend some time making this letter compelling enough to convince businesses that they should donate a raffle prize?
The reason I wanted to write about this is because it shows how a little planning and organisation of the content, combined with a rational presentation of facts and the right tone, can have a big impact on what happens next. Put it into a business context and it starts to make sense why copywriters exist!
And the one time it hasn’t worked? Communicating with the banks. I wrote the business case for my partner’s new venture so that he could secure the additional finance required to turn his plan into reality. It impressed but – not surprisingly – not enough to convince any of the banks to lend money to a small business. At which point it’s probably best I stop the suddenly angry tapping at my keyboard!