Sarah Norris calls bullshit on the idea that professional writing is dying. In an age where every person and company is fighting for your attention, the case for using a professional writer to produce compelling content isn’t just good sense; it’s good business.
But I would say that, wouldn’t I? I’ve been a professional writer and journalist for 15 years and run a boutique copywriting agency. You name it, I’ve written about it. And from all sides – be it as a journalist, a reviewer, a copywriter, a digital content provider and an excessive contributor to social media channels.
If your written communication is more of an afterthought, you haven’t established or even defined a consistent tone of voice and you’re letting your Facebook followers create content for you, you’re simply wasting time. Even worse, you’re boring your customers and diluting your brand. You may as well hand any market share you have to your competitor all nicely wrapped in a ribbon.
Instead of using Jackie from accounts to write your content (“Jackie once did a creative writing course so, you know, she can write really well”), you should be employing the services of a professional writer who thinks ‘audience’, ‘big picture’, ‘tone of voice’, ‘strategy’. After all, you wouldn’t invite the traffic light guy round to clean your office simply because he’s got a squeegee. We can all agree that’s a far less important role in the operation of your business but one that nonetheless requires a professional. Same obviously goes with your writing.
At best you have someone’s attention for three seconds, you need to hook them in with content that is savvy, customised, snappy, witty and informed. Each time you communicate to your audience you want to impress them, not just fill their inbox with junk. Gone are the days you can simply send out an e-news emblazoned with a few ‘on-trend’ colours and some ‘edgy’ photography. The fact is, consumers have become experts at deciding which brands and companies they want to engage in, it’s your job to make sure it’s you they are choosing.
Companies like Mr Porter are smashing it. They claim to be a global men’s online retail “destination”, where editorial content sits very comfortably alongside clothes for sale. Perhaps as comfortably as a Cary Grant inspired suit by Richard James. I know this because I read a very informative 800-word article on that very subject. Why? Because it was fascinating, full of info, unique and well written.
Rather than simply selling products, companies like this have cottoned on to the idea you can use content to market your brand. (Some have even coined this idea ‘Content Marketing’). They are selling a ‘lifestyle’ and a ‘community’ that consumers can identify with, engage with and share on your behalf. This allows companies to establish their credentials and be seen as authentic – a highly sought-after status in today’s market.
Customised content with a clear tone of voice is not just the perfect way to enhance and compliment your products, it gives customers – and potential customers – a reason to believe you.
Sarah Norris is writer in chief of The Writing Den.