Blog in Where we've been quoted
Now, in a language consultancy run by writers, you’d expect there to be more than a few authors knocking about. So to celebrate National Storytelling Week, here are a few (non-businessy) tales told by Writer folk past and present.
Jamie Jauncey’s The Witness – a tale of bloody conflict in the Scottish highlands – was called a ‘page-turner ... well-written ... and bursting with ideas’ by the Scotsman. (Check out his other book The Reckoning too.)
If short stories are more your thing, then Nick Parker’s collection, The Exploding Boy and Other Tiny Tales, could be right up your street. The Guardian said it was ‘impertinent, unlikely and astonishing’. Which was nice. (You can read one of them for nowt here.)
And watch this space:
Here’s Darragh McKeon talking about his first novel, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. It’s set against the backdrop of a collapsing Soviet Union and the Chernobyl disaster, and it’s due out on 6th March.
And last but by no means least, our friends at creative writing collective Dark Angels have penned a collaborative novel – get a peek at an excerpt here. Keeping Mum isn’t out yet – but keep an eye out for the latest news.
We’ve been at it again. Fresh from encouraging more people to fly again with The Writer Airways™ than Virgin, we thought we’d put our linguistic hunches to the test in the banking world.
Our airline test was all about sounding human and packing personality into writing. So we thought we’d see if those same rules applied to the banks’ words; specifically, a few lines of marketing designed to nudge you into applying for a current account.
So, do people want personality in their bank’s writing? Well, no actually. When we asked people which words they associated with snippets of each bank’s writing, they said:
- Metro Bank was the most helpful (29%), useful (29%) and clear (30%)
- First Direct’s (the most distinctive, and often the linguistic envy of the banking world) was condescending (14%)
- Lloyds was boring (20%).
Pretty conclusive. Metro Bank’s writing was no great shakes; just a really straight description of their service. So is banking a totally different kettle of fish when it comes to language?
Well, trust in banks has taken a real dent in the past five years, and it looks like we’re seeing that in how people react to their writing. We want someone to make us feel like their business is stable, and that our cash is in safe hands. Helpful, clear and practical. (I’d bet that’s in some banks’ tone of voice guidelines.)
But if you’re a bank, the bad news is that won’t mark you out. And it won’t last forever. So once we’re all feeling safe and sound again, the canny ones will start putting the flair back into their writing to stand out from the steady eddies. Solidity was so 2013.
If you’d like to see what the press are saying about our research, click on these links below:
The other week we won a CMA award for a Twitter thing we wrote (woohoo!). Here are Michelle and I accepting the little round statue (next to a very bored looking Russell Kane):
The thing was a choose your own adventure story where you’d click hashtags to follow one of many possible plots.
The Twitterverse went mad for it. It got ‘unprecedented’ levels of engagement according to Bruce Daisley, Twitter’s sales director in the UK, who named it as one of his favourite creative uses of Twitter.
And it all started from – boo, hiss – a promoted tweet.
In case you’re not on Twitter, a promoted tweet is a tweet that drops onto your page completely uninvited and (usually) tries to get you to buy something.
It doesn’t work. It can’t work.
Think of any good TV ad. Probably the John Lewis snowman springs to mind. Maybe these Old Spice ads. Or these ads for the iPod.
They all give us something in return for our attention: an emotion, a laugh, a song.
Our Twitter thing gave people a story. So by the time they got to the actual sales pitch they were feeling pretty good about the company behind all this.
So there’s the moral. Think not what your customer base can do for you, but what you can do for your customer base.
(And most of all, never, ever use the phrase ‘customer base’.)