Here is the news - and our views.  

We hope you find something that interests you.

1 - Are you being boring? Or does your writing pack a punch?

Here’s a question: when was the last time a piece of business writing – whether copy on a website, an advertising campaign or a press release – really grabbed your attention?
There are some great examples of those kinds of writing and more out there. But equally, it’s also very easy to turn your readers off in a few lines (words, even) and make them snore.
So, what’s the secret of great writing? In a nutshell – don’t be boring!


A professional copywriter will always find ways of engaging customers, staff members, the media or whoever their audience is. One of the worse marketing crimes is when some of your communication goes unnoticed and uncommented on. That means your creative efforts have been wasted.
 But don’t despair; here are five tips to packing your copy with punch:


1. Be more interesting! Not as easy as it first sounds, as you may think what your company does doesn’t sound remotely interesting to the wider world. Well, there is always a way of making it so. You manufacture paperclips? Why not add a fun fact-file about paperclips into your copy. For example, how many paperclips would it take to stretch from the Earth to the Moon? Or what is the most unusual use a paperclip has been put to? The possibilities are endless.


2. Be succinct. Particularly when writing for the web. The advice is: write your article as briefly as possible. Then cut out half of the words left. Readers are put off by too much text. And readers don't read text on websites the same way that they do in printed formats. Online, time is precious.


3. Think visually. Work with a good graphic designer. Whether for digital or print, great imagery and imaginative visual concepts will work wonders in getting your point across persuasively. The copywriter should help generate these ideas, too. Did the phrase “pack a punch” above spark any visual ideas in your mind?


4. Think like your customers. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in your organisation’s own achievements and internal narrative. Yes, you’re proud that your company was founded 137 years ago and you have eight directors on your board. But what does that tell your customer – someone whose interest is likely to be fleeting at best? So, be harsh and apply what journalists call the “so what?” test on key statements in your copy. When presented with the latest gushing news release, editors and journalist will ask themselves if this is newsworthy. Is it really an interesting and unusual achievement and worthy of their readers’ or listeners’ attention?


5. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Who is your audience? Think of your customer as a real individual with a personality; likes and dislikes; a job; children (perhaps) and a mortgage. Of course you’re aware they have these things. But try building up a profile of a typical customer or a range of customers. What would grab them and spark their interest? What words or images would turn them off – or bore them? Give your fictional customer a name if it helps. And cut to the chase in your writing. That way they will be interested, certainly wide awake – and even hungry to hear more from you.


Andrew Bennett


Associate at SindyB Communications Ltd and a freelance copywriter at Bennettwords


2 - Time to spring clean your brand

It’s funny how the start of a new year brings on the desire to spring clean, declutter and “chuck out the tinsel”. My theory is that, having spent longer than usual indoors with more people, more food and more presents than at any other time of the year, we’ve had time to have a good look at our homes. It’s like seeing it for the first time - and recognising the areas that need to be changed.

The same can be true of our businesses; making plans for the year ahead is something occupying many of us right now. So why not start with your brand? Doing a whole rebrand may seem like a lot of time and effort for little reward. But reviewing what you stand for, what you are offering and how you are perceived by the people that are important to you is a key step to growing and developing your business. It is a proactive part of starting the next year of development.

Here are a few steps we recommend to spring cleaning your brand:

Step One: repeat after us, “our brand is much more than just a logo”. Your brand is your DNA, it is everything about your organisation, the way you work, the way your customers, staff and stakeholders see you. Before reaching for the Pantone (2018 is all about the ultra violet, you know), reach for the customer and staff research and see where your customers and colleagues see your strengths and your weaknesses.

Step Two: have a clear vision what you are trying to communicate through your brand. This should appeal to the positive feedback from your customers (staff and stakeholders) and give reassurance and confidence around any negatives.

Step Three: keep it consistent. Remember the bit about your brand being your DNA? Applying your brand consistently, and meaningfully across everything your organisation does, is the key. The images, the words, the customer service, being a great place to work and the quality of your products all add up to your brand. The design and presentation of your logo, should reflect who you are.

Step Four: communicate and promote your brand. Now is that time to use your brand to engage with existing audiences and reach out to new ones. Developing your communications strategy to showcase your brand, tell your brand story and stand out from the crowd is the final important step to rebranding.

Incidentally, if the plans you have in mind are on a more personal, career or relationship basis, then I can recommend Your Book as a way of bringing the same fresh thinking to old problems in your life.

It’s 2018, why not give it a go? Let us know if we can help.


3 - And another thing......communications strategy Columbo style

My all-time favourite TV detective is Columbo. I know that dates me, but honestly I was but a mere child when I encountered the man in the raincoat who always solved the crime that we the viewers had first witnessed.

Years later, I find myself using Columbo parallels on a regular basis in my working life. Now - that is the sign of good characterisation and excellent scriptwriting. So please bear with me whilst I stretch a Columbo theme perhaps a little too far, in making the connection with developing communications strategy. You see it all started with the one about the Hollywood funeral director.........

One of the best Columbo episodes is, Ashes to Ashes, starring Patrick McGoohan who was Columbo’s nemesis in three separate episodes, as well as one of the guest directors for the series. This story involves “grisly undertakings” in an upscale Hollywood funeral parlour. In his dogged pursuit of McGoohan’s supercilious character, Columbo attends a funeral directors’ convention, where a certain amount of in-jokes and gallows humour is evident.

The “coffin jokes” reminded me that every profession has a level of humour and hopefully, the ability to laugh at ourselves. Communications and PR professionals are no different, but sometimes it feels like the joke is on us. Social media is full of lists of things that we hear regularly from clients and colleagues which have us metaphorically putting our head in our hands - comments such as, “We need a logo”, “My target audience is....the general public” and a particular favourite, “Can you make this look pretty?”. Great communications is about outputs, but it is about the right outputs linked to the core objectives for your organisation.

Getting to grips with what communications and PR is and how it adds value in organisations, starts with the big picture. It is the step most often missed out in developing communications plans, because so many people want to get directly to the solution before they have necessarily analysed the problem. When we talk to people about their communications and PR needs, they present us with the output they have decided they want. “I want a video” or “We just need a few leaflets and posters”, or the infamous, “We need a logo”. Of course we can “just” provide all of these services and more besides, but there is very little point, unless we know that the outputs will deliver not just what the client wants, but what they need.

Just like Columbo, our job is to get behind the obvious and find out the detail of what is really going on, building PR plans from an evidence base that will ultimately provide a successful outcome. We are always looking for “just one more thing......”

At Sindy B we use a simple three step process to solve the PR conundrum - consider, create, communicate. Steps one and two are as vital as the final step - which is delivering the agreed communications and PR campaigns. Properly researched, integrated and targeted communications which we will identify through steps one and two will, like Columbo, always provide the optimum solution.

And in case you were wondering, yes Patrick McGoohan’s character acted in haste, missed out some vital steps in his crisis planning and failed to spin his way out of trouble at the end. But the funeral parlour had a wonderful logo.


4 - Agatha Christie - the way to a dream job

I am a huge Agatha Christie fan. Every since her books became my first “adult” reading, with every paperback eagerly consumed, I have been fascinated by mysteries and thrillers.

The opening of, Murder on the Orient Express, the first Agatha Christie adaptation to hit the big screen in a generation, is a welcome excuse to open up one of her most famous, but one of my least read, books.

 

One of the things about Christie’s writing style is the very neat and methodical way she builds up the plot; even the chapter headings tell you exactly what is going to happen. Chapter Five in Murder on the Orient Express is helpfully entitled, “The Crime”. And even someone with only a passing acquaintance with her works, is all too familiar with the final chapter reveal (“Poirot Propounds Two Solutions”, in MOTOE) when the crime is unveiled for all to witness.

Apart from the excitement of the new film, I was also reminded on the great crimewriter’s work by my other reading matter this week; shortlisting job applicants for a client. Oh for the clarity of the application which used the key requirements in the job specification to provide headings for the information the candidate wished to communicate. All the wonderful prose and eloquent expression of past jobs and achievements is completely lost unless these words are marshalled into a coherant structure. And yes, telling me that you are perfect for the job, but not telling me how your skills fit with those the employer is looking for, is a job seeking crime.

My advice to the large number of candidates whose applications will have been edited out of the selection process, like excess chapters on the ghost writer’s Macbook? Take a leaf out of Dame Agatha’s book:

- keep to the plot (and tell me why your skills fit the job description in question; don’t just tell me all your skills in any order)
- use headings and subheadings to flag to the reader where the vital information they are looking for in your application is; don’t expect them to go searching for hidden clues and definitely do not give them any red herrings
- tie up all of the loose ends in a final paragraph; make your application memorable and conclusive

Follow these simple steps and you too may be on the trail of your blockbuster PR job.









 


5 - Making every word count
In the face of social media, where the selfie is king and queen, and where the common currency for likes and reposts is images, videos and gifs, it is easy to assume that words are now yesterday's news.
But actually it is the other way around - the crowded, image-led market place means that now more than ever, every word you use needs to count.
To make your words just impactful as your images, remember that the right word can also be worth a thousand words, to coin a phrase. It is not about how many words, or how quickly you can fill a space. Chosen well, a single word can powerfully convey everything you want to say. 20 years ago the single word, "Mummy" handwritten on an envelope attached to a pure white wreath, atop a lead-lined coffin conveyed everything about the unbearable grief of two young boys tragically bidding their farewells to a much loved princess. On the same subject, the carefully chosen, but spontaneously composed eulogy from Earl Spencer cut through all of the millions of newspaper columns and wall-to-wall broadcast coverage to strike a chord with the mourners.  They applauded his words and his sentiments in an unprecedented show of support. Applauding at funerals is not something the British were given to do.
As PR professionals it is as easy to focus on the number, as well as the appropriateness of the words. Borrowing from our colleagues in advertising and marketing, the most memorable communications are usually the shortest. OK, OK for those old enough to remember, "lip smacking, thirst quenching....." there is a place for a whole load of words and no punctuation. But the same generation of advertising gave us "go to work on an egg" and "tell Sid". Now it's "just do it" and "think different".
Even in the social media whirl, finding just the right words whether it's using no more than 140 characters, or just five letters, is still guaranteed to have impact and longevity. Simples.

6 - We've moved

The sharp-eyed will have noticed that our business address has changed. In these times of identity theft and fake news, we just wanted to say that you're right, we do have a new address. It really has.

All our other contact details remain the same. So no reason not to call us.


7 - It's only words

Moliere said that it is the great ambition of women to inspire love. In our experience, it's the great ambition of everyone who believes they may have a book in them to be inspired.

Inspiration can be given a helping hand by taking a few practical steps - the first and most obvious one of which is, if you want to be a writer, first be a reader. There is no better preparation for putting pen to paper, than to read and learn from all those who have gone there before you. Whether it's a clever marketing line, a compelling news story or a first novel, knowing what grabs the attention and what "sells" always helps. This doesn't mean imitating or repeating what's already out there. It means know your market, know your audience, know that you have something unique to offer them.

The next steps are try, try again and don't stop trying. To be a writer you have to write. Anywhere, any place, any time write something down. The only solution to a blank piece of paper is to put something on it. Putting down your thoughts and ideas starts the process. they don't have to be beautifully organised, perfectly formed or even proper sentences at first.

And finally even the best writers need an editor. And that's where we come in. Sindy B can work with you to get your words to be the most compelling, the most compelling and the most effective for your business.


8 - Another bad week for PR

It’s not hard to see why social – and traditional – media commentators were quick to brand the United Airlines incident of forcible removal of a passenger a “PR disaster”. It’s not the first or last time that PR professionals appear to be held responsible. But let’s not forget, this was not some ill-advised marketing campaign (Kendal Jenner for Pepsi, anyone?) or PR that spun out of control. This was a corporate disaster that is the story that just keeps on giving. Such little regard for paying customers is not something that a bit of PR will ever sort. Whilst PR didn’t cause the problems, your heart goes out to the team trying to recover the situation now.

Crisis management and acting quickly to tell the real story is something that every organisation needs. If you want to avert a disaster, or you are in the middle of one, give us a call.

Read more of our blog posts.


9 - Adoption vs adaption

As the alcohol fumes and smoke drifted across the three foot high picket fence, on the first day in the summer of 2016 which felt like you might want to spend it outside, I was reminded of the difference between adoption and adaption.

 

The idea of a barbecue - cooking in the open air with friends around to enjoy the conversation, food and drink is a great one.  Particularly if you live in a country - let's just say Australia - which is hot, sparsely populated and has plentiful fresh food.  In the UK, where the population is dense and the climate changeable, cooking in the open air is fraught with many a problem.  Not least the proximity of the neighbours who may want to enjoy the fresh summer air without the fumes, smoke and burning food smells drifting the 10 or so feet to the next suburban garden.  There's a reason why the UK has a long tradition of street parties with soggy sandwiches, bunting and tea,

 

To work here, and promote harmony and tolerance amongst all those who want to enjoy the rarest of summer days in the garden, the concept of barbecue needs adapting. What works in Australia, doesn't work exactly the same here.

 

All too often in communications and public relations we see examples of adoption of a great idea, rather than adaption.  Social media is a wonderful thing - it's low cost, highly accessible and easy to use.  But not everything your organisation needs to say can be said on social media.  It isn't an alternative to other means or (often) more expensive communications, it is complementary means of communications some things, to some people, a lot of the time.  Some things will always need face-to-face communications; just like some means of outdoor cooking will always work best in large, open rather than confined spaces.

 

So if you want your communications to be a harmonious and enjoy by many, rather than treated as the noisy neighbour sending fumes and smoke across the manicured lawns of suburbia, give Sindy B Communications a call - and we'll adapt exactly what you need.


10 - We've done it

Welcome to the new Sindy B Communications Limited website.

 

Like the car mechanic who services everyone's vehicle but their own - sometimes you have to really focus your efforts on practising what you preach and applying your own theory.

 

So that's what we've done here - we hope you like it.  It brings our own digital strategy in line with the strategies we prepare for our clients.  And we hope it is just as successful.