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Master of all trades


If it’s Friday, you must be writing about personal finance. Or pre-owned furniture. Or Premier League football. Or, more realistically in the modern copywriting world, all three, to really tight deadlines.

It’s the kind of frenzied schedule that keeps your job interesting, but also makes it demanding. After all, how are you supposed to get the best out of your writing when you are switching from client to client so frequently?

There is no doubt that changing your tone of voice multiple times in a day is a challenge for any writer. But it’s one you can overcome by standing on your head and breathing through a scuba diving mask. Not really. You beat it by absorbing the following expert advice.

Create a core story for each client

As Roger Harwood and Gyles Lingwood explain in the excellent Read Me, a core story is “just a fancy phrase for a document that contains everything important about your subject, written up to appropriate headings to a good (but not finished) standard”.

This resource requires a little extra work up front, but when a campaign is up and running it saves you time by acting as a “copy repository”, where you can go to swiftly crib up on the required tone of voice and everything you need to write about.

Reacquaint yourself with the product

You’ve finished one client brief and are ready to move onto the next one. Given the amount of work you have on it makes sense to just keep writing, right? Wrong. Take some time to research the subject you’re marketing. “Know your product inside and out before you start working,” advises legendary ad man Bill Bernbach.

Visualise your reader

Matt Porter of M&C Saatchi in Sydney uses a neat mind trick to adapt his tone of voice for each client. “A tip I’ve never forgotten is to visualise somebody I know who epitomises the audience and write my copy as if it was a letter to them,” he reveals.

Reading your stuff out loud

If you’ve done the above and still aren’t certain that you’ve nailed the right tone, channel your inner David Abbott. “I read my copy out aloud as I write,” revealed the iconic copywriter. “It helps me check the rhythm of the line and ultimately the flow of the piece."

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