HOW TO WRITE BETTER BY BEING PUNNY

 

People enjoy humour, it’s part of the human psyche. The desire to laugh and be happy are shown to improve productivity, success and lifespan. Also it is widely agreed that laughing is part of human bonding. With this information in mind wouldn’t it make sense to employ humour in your content to improve it and gain appeal, creating a bond with your audience.

 

The simplest way to do this is through puns. One of the best wordsmiths in the world so far, William Shakespeare, was incredible at this.  Many people are capitalizing on this – I mean we all do don’t we? People consume humorous content all the time – this can be seen through the popularity of Buzzfeed and The Onion.

 

My personal favourite punny content is a webshow called ‘Whine About It’: a show in which Matt, the host, gets drunk drinking wine at his desk and whines about things. It’s a perfect mix for me – humour and complaining. Upwards and onwards, here are five steps for you to include satire, hilarity and cleverness in your writing to engage your readers and consumers.

 

  1. Be Clever

Consider your choice of words carefully and think about how they sound and how they play together. For example, at The Copy Collective we are always trying to make our social media more engaging. “A gift from a grateful client, heads up Dominique greatly enjoys grapes of the red variety, Maureen’s muse is more of the Moët kind” was a post we put up recently with an image of wine from a client. Something as simple as alliteration can take an ordinary sentence and make it magical.

 

  1. Be Comparative

When talking about a story or explaining something, compare it to something that’s completely different i.e., an oxymoron. To quote Oscar Wilde, “I can resist everything but temptation” or Andy Warhol, “I am a deeply superficial person”. The simplicity of an oxymoron can really boost any content in both how clever it is and its humour.

 

  1. Be Silly

In my experience some of the best jokes are my worst jokes, although my friends may not agree with this, obviously they’re wrong. Making people groan is just as satisfying as making people giggle. For example, every opportunity I have to say, “Hi hungry, I’m Rachel” I will. It’s just like with media; there’s no such thing as bad press, all press is good. The same goes for puns.

 

  1. Be cautious

It’s all well and good to throw in an odd joke here and there but you will upset readers when every single thing they read is a joke. They’ll stop taking you seriously and the comedy will lose its value. Be strategic, hit them when they don’t know it’s coming and make it good.

 

  1. Have Fun

Isn’t that the point of comedy, to have fun, enjoy yourself, and make people laugh? So be funny in your writing, be clever and most of all be creative.

 

I’ll leave you with this:  A person walks into a bookstore, “Where’s the self-help section?” they ask the clerk. The clerk shrugs and replies, “If I tell you, won’t that defeat the purpose?” – Anonymous

 

Other blogs of hers can be found here and here.

A brand is more than a logo and signature style for communications. It’s also what people think about your organisation. In this way, a brand is alive. It’s constantly being recreated in real-time based on people’s perceptions.

For your organisation to succeed, you want to ensure that those perceptions align with your own beliefs about who you are and what you stand for.

Your brand voice plays a key role in achieving this. But how do you finesse your brand voice? And what is brand voice anyway?

Identifying your brand’s personality

Your tone of voice helps your brand become memorable, meaning that how you say something is just as important as what you say — and sometimes even more so.

But how do you make sure you’re consistently using an authentic and effective tone of voice?

Start by thinking about your brand voice as an extension of your organisation’s personality. If your brand were a person, how would you describe them? Humble and wise? Cheeky? Direct? Friendly and approachable? Compassionate?

Establishing personality traits helps you set parameters. If confidence is one of your company’s main traits, then your tone of voice may be bold, assertive and direct. If you consider your organisation to be visionary, then your tone may be uplifting and aspirational. A bit lofty even.

Guiding questions for refining your brand voice

Clearly personality and tone go hand in hand. But there are other factors to consider as well.

As you continue to refine your brand voice, here are some guiding questions to consider:

  • What type of language will resonate with your key audiences? Casual language, including slang? Or more formal language?
  • How do personality and tone impact the cadence of your written communications? Are sentence fragments ok to use? Or are you more academic?
  • Are you conversational in your content, using ‘we’, ‘our’ and ‘you’, for example? Or do you strictly write about your organisation in the third person?
  • Do you use contractions in written communications? (This links back to your target audience as well as the level of formality you’re aiming for.)
  • How do you/your employees naturally speak about your organisation? How can this organic approach be captured in your written communications?

Making your organisation distinct through your unique brand voice

Finessing your brand voice means delving deeper than questions of style, such as punctuation preferences. It’s about communicating in a way that helps you effectively connect with your target audience and stand out from the crowd at the same time.

Why tone of voice matters

The way something is said is described as the tone of voice. In content writing, it is a product of the words you choose and the structure of your sentences.

Tone of voice reflects personality and for organisations it is integral to their brand — just as much as their logo.

Tone of voice enables organisations to:

  • stand-out from their competitors
  • communicate their personality and values
  • attract and keep customers.

Developing tone of voice

It takes time to identify and develop an organisation’s tone of voice — its values and personality must be carefully considered.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Talk to stakeholders: How do your employees, suppliers and customers perceive your organisation? Is it serious and formal or casual and laid-back? Which of your competitors’ voices do they like or dislike?
  • Audit your content: This can be a mammoth task, even for a small organisation, but it is worth the effort. Review website pages, brochures and proposal templates, etc. Is the tone of voice consistent throughout? Do parts clash with what you are trying to achieve?
  • Review your brand: Tone of voice is part of your overall brand. Does it match the image your organisation projects? It should. So, if your website’s home page depicts serious people doing serious things, of course, fluffy, colloquial language is not appropriate.

Consistency

It’s easy to fall into the trap of altering the tone of voice for different market segments. After all, shouldn’t we, like chameleons, mirror our audiences? Yes, but tone of voice must be consistent. Instead, it’s content that should change (blog posts or white papers, for example). When an organisation is inconsistent with its tone of voice, it can be perceived as ‘fake’.

Set some rules

For this reason, consistent tone of voice is important. But, when several people are producing content, this can be difficult to achieve.

It pays to set some rules.

The Copy Collective established a style guide. For example, we don’t use question marks in a blog post’s main headline; we also spell out numbers below 10 unless associated with measurements.

A style guide can also include:

  • Values: For example, it may state: ‘When we write, we are always friendly, polite and helpful.’
  • Language: Which words should you use or avoid? For example, for a friendly tone, your style guide may instruct writers to use ‘you’ and ‘we’. If you are an IT support company, it may advise avoiding technical jargon, which could confuse and intimidate customers.

What is your organisation’s personality? What are its values? Make sure you communicate clearly with a consistent tone of voice.

 

Thank you customer. You have been charming, friendly, clear in your brief, demanding, unreasonable, confused and ignorant.  Sometimes you are the good fairy of those things; sometimes the other and sometimes all in turn. Sometimes you pay your bills on time; most often you need a friendly reminder.

But, together, with the help of some amazing writers, editors, interviewers, transcribers, designers and project managers, we’ve produced great things.

We’ve progressed international trade, we’ve made information available to millions of people about putting a roof over their heads, food on their tables, wine to gladden their hearts and religion to save their souls. We’ve helped save dying children, pursued better treatments for cancer, blindness, deafness and spinal injury. We’ve helped save the planet – including the whales, wallaroos and wombats. We’ve educated and entertained.  We’ve celebrated growth and development and grieved over destruction. Our words, through you, have become heralds of hope, iterations of innocence and cornerstones of creativity.

Together, we’ve created miracles, one of which is a million dollar business. Over the years, we’ve paid writers more than $3 million dollars, we’ve paid our share of taxes and kept the energy industry afloat (often burning the midnight oil on your behalf).

Thank you. Thank you for the brief, for the opportunity, for the growth, for the employment and for the sense of satisfaction. Thank you for choosing us.

From office printing to the rise of Managed Services, Rest in Print launches as an easy-to-read guide to help businesses reduce costs of their office printing. We speak to author Mitchell Filby, who draws on extensive industry experience as a global industry expert, keynote speaker and publisher to examine today’s office printing practices and current trends.


The office printing industry is under pressure.
Office printing volumes are in their greatest decline.
Quite simply, the office printing industry is facing its greatest challenge of the past twenty-five years. And the big question is, which brand or manufacturer will survive?

Rest in Print – A guide for survival

Author Mitchell Filby calls for a transformation of the office printing and document-imaging industry through his new book Rest in Print. The book will help companies reduce their costs and burden from office printing, and help the overall office printing industry adapt from the printed page to digital content.
“I want to help businesses save thousands of dollars simply by following a few simple industry best practices,” Mitchell said, “while at the same time discover insights of how the industry has and continues to engage with its customers.”
“Rest In Print provides unique insight into the challenges, and the opportunities available, as print volumes decline and the industry transitions into a services-led model, such as Managed Print Services (MPS).”

So what makes this book unique?

Rest in Print launches as the first ever book to delve into the past twenty-five years of the print industry and examine how businesses will fight to stay relevant despite customer, market and technological changes.
Mitchell Filby has seen firsthand what companies will do to survive, and what happens when they don’t, from his time working and consulting for companies like Oce, Kodak, Fuji Xerox and Canon.
The book will give readers:

  • A useful, easy-to-read guide to understanding today’s practices and current trends.
  • Five factors businesses need to know in order to understand Page per Print contract and take control of printing spend.
  • How to improve business appeal so that customers fight harder for their business.
  • Up-to-the-minute tips to help spot sharp sales practices that cost money.

 

Who will read it?

Rest in Print was written for decision makers across both corporate and government businesses that actively have to engage, manage and require an insight of the print, copier, and document-imaging marketplace.
However it is expected the largest target market will be the copier, print and document imaging industry including many of the related industries that connect into or are now integrated into the print/copier industry, such as toner & ink supplies businesses, the hardware and software financing industry, IT distributors and resellers and the vast array of printer/copier sales channels and dealerships around the world.

Get your copy today

Rest in Print launched last month and was edited by our expert team at Red Raven Books, The Copy Collective’s new publishing, and imprint service.
Order your copy today.

About the author, Mitchell Filby

Mitchell is the founder and Managing Director of First Rock Consulting, Australia’s leading and most recognised independent Business Consultancy, IT Advisory and Media organisation. The business was specifically shaped and fashioned around supporting and servicing all the elements that interact and grow out of the office printing and document imaging industry in Australia.
Mitchell is also a media journalist, active industry blogger and a keynote speaker at numerous global managed print services conferences around the world.
Mitchell’s passion is to transform the office printing and document imaging industry but at the same time keep it accountable for its actions. His vision and goal is to help big business manage and bridge existing paper-based output content to a more effective and efficient digital content format.

June is Author’s Month to celebrate the launch of Red Raven Books. Red Raven Books is the publishing and imprint arm of The Copy Collective. Find out how we can help you today.

Michael Hamilton converts his finance and telecommunications experience into the launch of his first book IT Should Just Work – Customer Satisfaction and the value of Software Testing. Here we unpack his passion for working with businesses to deliver working outcomes for a positive customer experience.

Ever been in a position when you can’t access your internet banking for an entire 24 hour period?
Or
Upon checking into your airline flight you find out the booking system has crashed with no notice of when the system will be operational again?

It should just work, right? The reach of Information Technology (IT) now impacts every facet of business.
That’s why software testing and quality control procedures exist in today’s world to avoid these types of catastrophic events.

Software testing and customer satisfaction – what do they have in common?

Michael Hamilton, an IT Software Testing professional, has witnessed the dramatic transformation of the IT industry during the past 11 years and he has worked with local and international software vendors for clients such as Telstra, Optus, & NAB.
He knows that customers just want the software to work the first time and operate as expected, every time.

IT should just work – Customer Satisfaction & the value of Software Testing

That’s why he wrote IT should just work – Customer Satisfaction & the value of Software Testing edited by Red Raven Books, The Copy Collective’s new publishing and imprint service.
“I wanted to educate both technical and non-technical executives, business owners, and IT Managers on the benefits of employing an integrated software testing and customer focused strategy,” said Michael.
“The book motivates the reader to implement software testing practices not only within their IT strategy but in their day to day business practices as well.”

So what makes this book unique?

This is the only book you’ll read that sets out the impact of software testing and how it affects your brand loyalty, customer satisfaction and brand reputation.
And a few more reasons:

  • It’s a practical guide to implement software testing into your IT strategy
  • It cuts through the tech jargon with business friendly language and no assumed knowledge required
  • Learn from relevant examples from customer centric organisations and the key business decision makers employing an IT strategy
  • You can self-assess your business with a health check of your current IT practices

Who will read it?

  • All organisations whose core business is customer satisfaction and brand loyalty
  • Companies’ currently employing software testing in their IT strategy and wanting to improve their results
  • Companies’ not employing software testing at all. This book demonstrates the correlation of how below standard software performance has a direct impact on customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, and brand reputation.

Get your copy in July
IT Should Just Work – Customer Satisfaction and the value of Software Testingis a step-by-step guide for organisations where the customer is the central part of their business.
“I have shared my personal experience, knowledge and industry interactions which define the difference between success and failure for any customer-focused organisations,” Michael said.
“If you are serious about driving your business to the next level or establishing a new business take this step with me. It is a journey that will benefit you and especially your customers.”
The launch date will be announced on Michael Hamilton’s LinkedIn Profile.
About the author, Michael Hamilton
Michael Hamilton is an IT Software Testing professional with first-hand experience and knowledge from working with a variety of strategic corporate projects during the past 11 years in finance and telecommunications.
Michael has the ability to turn complex problems into conceptual & simple strategies to ensure your next project is a successful one. Michael simply ensures your IT systems deliver a consistent outcome, customer satisfaction, upholds employee morale, supports customer loyalty and most importantly achieve profit through innovation.
June is Author’s Month to celebrate the launch of Red Raven Books. Red Raven Books is the publishing and imprint arm of The Copy Collective. Find out how we can help you today.

Maureen Shelley continues with Part 3 of “10 Simple Steps to becoming a successful published author” series, on crafting a cover as good as your content.

Although we say “don’t judge a book by its cover” everyone does. That makes the selection of the design for the cover of your book the most important decision you will make – apart from choosing the title.

Front cover design

Graphic Designer: You should definitely budget for a graphic artist to specifically design the cover for your book. Although it will cost you between $250 and $500 it will be the best single investment you make in the creation of your work. Your designer should be able to offer you three choices of design. You will need to tell them what the book is about, who is the audience and what target market you are seeking. Your designer will know what are the current and upcoming trends in book design (yes, book covers have fads and fashions) and the colours that will appeal to your market segment.

Marketplace designs: If you really can’t afford a graphic designer, then consider running a competition on www.99designs.com.au and set a budget for what you can afford. Please don’t be too mean and please provide a reasonable budget for the competition. After all, if you are joining the creative community you need to respect your fellow creatives and provide fair compensation for their efforts.

Do-It-Yourself (DIY): If you really, really can’t afford a designer then you could publish your book through a self-publishing website that offers standard book templates for your cover. This is the least desirable option but still at least gives your book a professional look. Try www.lulu.com or www.blurb.com.au for examples of book packages that can deliver a good quality result and a range of publishing options.

Back cover elements

Testimonials or endorsements: Once you’ve got the front cover design sorted, the back cover is the next important project. It is important to have organised your endorsements from people who have read your manuscript.

The blurb: You also need a good blurb of about 150 words that really encapsulates your book and its aim. Take time and care when writing this and ask someone else to read it for you before submitting it to your designer.

ISBN and barcode: If you are going to print your book, you will need an ISBN and a barcode. In Australia, the site to go to is Thorpe and Bowker at www.thorpe.com.au and they can supply both ISBNs and bar codes. However, if you use a site like Lulu or Blurb your package may include a barcode and ISBN.

The spine

Some people will first see your book as the spine on a bookshelf, so it has to work for you too. Before commissioning your design, study the shelves of your local bookshop and library. See what appeals to you. Look at other books in the same genre as yours – what elements do they include? You will most likely only have room for the title, your name and your publishing imprint logo.
This is where the title of your book has to do the most work, so ensure that your title sums up your book or is engaging or intriguing or all three. The width of your spine will depend on how many pages are in the book. If yours is light on, consider asking your typesetter to increase the spacing or the type size or the margins. A book that might be 60 pages of A4 text can turn to 300 pages in a Trade B paperback if the correct font, spacing and margins are used.
The wider the spine, the brighter the cover colours, the greater the contrast of type to cover, the more eye-catching your book’s spine will be.
June is Author’s Month to celebrate the launch of Red Raven Books. Red Raven Books is the publishing and imprint arm of The Copy Collective. Find out how we can help you today.

Maureen Shelley continues with Part 2 of “10 Simple Steps to becoming a successful published author” series, putting the spotlight on masterful editing.

An editor will proof read and undertake more substantive edits to a work. Proof reading involves checking for semantics, typographical errors and grammar.

In searching for grammatical errors, an editor will consider a range of issues; and here are just some.

  1. Has the writer made the correct use of definitive articles?
  2. Has the writer avoided confusing modifiers?
  3. Are the subject and verb in agreement, in grammatical terms?
  4. Has the writer used appropriate punctuation within sentences?
  5. Does the sentence structure follow established principles? If not, is it appropriate for the work?
  6. Are there any spelling errors?
  7. What is the style for capitalisation and is it used consistently?
  8. Are thepro-noun (s) /noun (s) in agreement?
  9. Has the writer split their infinitives?
  10. Are there squinting or limiting modifiers used?
  11. Are there incomplete comparisons in the work?
  12. Has the writer solved the great gerund mystery?
  13. Are there redundant pairs?
  14. Has the writermisused or confused ‘like’ and ‘as’?
  15. Has the writer taken the long way round to say something? That is, are there circumlocutions?
  16. Has the correct punctuation been used, particularly in regard to question marks?
  17. Has the writer confused self and personal pronoun use?
  18. Is there pronoun and antecedent agreement?
  19. Has the writer used double negatives?
  20. Has the writer begun or ended sentences with a conjunctive?
  21. Is therecomparison of absolute adjectives?
  22. Has the writer used unbalanced quantifiers or dangling modifiers?
  23. In regard to semicolons; are they used correctly?
  24. Is the verb form use appropriate?
  25. Has the writer used prepositions at the beginning or end of sentences? If so, is that appropriate for the text?
  26. Has the writer indulged in noun strings?
  27. Do the verb tenses agree?
  28. Has there beenmisuse of subordinate or subjunctive clauses?
  29. Is there incorrect pronoun case agreement?

Apart from resolving these issues, an editor will also (if paid and directed to do so) check facts, gain permissions where appropriate, insert appropriate references (biblical, geographical and literary are just a few), index, mark citations, insert footnotes and endnotes and create a glossary.
In addition to all of this, a good editor will ensure that a work is readable and makes sense. That it has a consistent structure and sensible flow or a cohesive narrative.
A good editor is worth their weight in gold. (And they will check for clichés too!) Oh, and they will eliminate exclamation marks or ‘screamers’ as they are known. 

 June is Author’s Month to celebrate the launch of Red Raven Books. Red Raven Books is the publishing and imprint arm of The Copy Collective. Find out how we can help you today.

The Copy Collective’s resident wordsmith Maureen Shelley begins her new blog series: “10 Simple Steps to becoming a successful published author.

Today she unpacks the curious concept of proof reading.

What is proof reading anyway?
Proof reading is when a manuscript or other written work is submitted for checking of semantics, grammar and typographical errors.

This can be done by a proofreader or editor or, if you can’t afford a human, you can use online programs such as Grammarly. We use Grammarly to check for originality to ensure that work submitted for proofing or editing by us isn’t plagiarised by the writer.

So what are you trying to say? 
What programs such as Grammarly can’t do for you is actually understand what you are trying to say when your subject and object aren’t clear and then to suggest appropriate edits.

If as a writer you can’t even afford Grammarly, then you should at least use the spell checker in your word processing program.

Tips for top-class grammar when using Word:

  • Set the language to your choice first – Australian English, UK English or US English – they will all give slightly different suggestions for spelling of words. Then do a “select all (Control A in Word on a PC) and then F7 for a spell check. Do this repeatedly – you will be amazed at how many errors you find.
  • Turn on recommendations for grammar as well as spelling. It will come up with a few suggestions that you will need to ignore but should find most glaring errors.

June is Author’s Month to celebrate the launch of Red Raven Books. Red Raven Books is the publishing and imprint arm of The Copy Collective. Find out how we can help you today.

 

In the world of politics, there is no second place.There’s either winning Government or a long period in limbo. For the rest of us it is pretty much the same: success or oblivion.With the finish line of the 47thAustralian federal election in sight, there’s an opportunity, which organisations such as yours may use to your advantage. It’s time to ask yourself if your organisation is ready to make the most of post-election opportunities for campaigning, mobilising supporters and establishing yourself with new audiences.
In the days and weeks after the election, it’s essential for your organisation to communicate its action plan for the future. You need to align yourself with political agendas or position yourself to be the one that acts on issues that peoplecare about regardless of the government’s or shadow cabinet’s advocacy.
Either way, it’s crucial that you communicate your stance, and fast.
It’s not an easy task. Key to your campaign will be how specific you are with your ask. Saying you just want to approach – for example – environmental issues isn’t enough. Which issue? What needs to happen? Why? How? Who’s involved? And most importantly: What do you want your supporters, clients or customers to do about it?

The Asia Pacific arm of Greenpeace runs targeted campaigns that are very successful. Pic: Courtesy Greenpeace AP.

Greenpeace always does this really well and a recent example is their Great Barrier Reef campaigns. They target a specific politician about a specific issue threatening the Reef. They clarify the solutions the MP needs to implement. And they make it 100% clear how their supporters can take action to achieve these goals.
Here are some of the other possible policies (or changes to policy) that could affect you post-election:

·

National Disability Insurance Scheme

·

Education funding (Gonski)

·

Refugees

·

Marriage equality

·

Conservation and the environment

·

Welfare, and

·

Funding for the artsBut it’s all about how you ask for these things. It’s an art form. And if you’re not completely committed to producing perfect, persuasive copy, then your mission may not only fall on deaf ears, it is likely it will fall into silence too.
 It’s all about quick response, and you need an expert at writing and designing online projects in short time frames. You need a campaign that is easy for people to respond to, and which may cover eDMs, social media, targeted ads, website copy, fully-integrated digital campaigns, and more.
So the question is not who will win this election, it’s will you be off the blocks and running when it’s through?

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