Copywriting, collaboration, and creativity AMA.

Stephanie B. Dufner, M.A.
Jun 18, 2018

Hello! I’m Stephanie Dufner. I work with Madeira Public Relations, a communications firm based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Madeira works with organizations in creating marketing and communications strategies and compelling content to advance organizational missions. Much of what I do involves writing copy featured on websites and social media and in digital newspapers.  

For this AMA, I will answer questions regarding the process of copywriting.

I look forward to answering your questions. Please follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linked In.

 

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What tools are available for managing copywriting/ content production?
Jun 25, 9:08AM EDT0

Hi Frenel,

I currently don't use any tools, but this link from Office Ninjas provides some. 

Jun 25, 12:19PM EDT0
Why are typography, design, and copywriting all important to content marketing?
Jun 25, 8:12AM EDT0

Hello Sandra,

To me, content marketing answers questions and addresses (a) need(s). The elements included in content marketing include language and visuals (video, pictures, graphics) that perform the abovelisted functions. As humans are visual creatures, we want to see well-crated content that's visually appealing but also resonates with us. Well-crafted content incorporates strong copy (which is data-influenced) with a typeface that reflects the copy's overarching message and contains compelling visuals that supplement the language of the content. 

Jun 25, 12:32PM EDT0
How do you balance including creative content but also data-driven content when developing copy?
Jun 25, 2:17AM EDT0

Hi DrPeter,

I believe data drives creative content. Data informs content, whether you're drafting copy for a brochure, developing an infographic, or writing a white paper. You can incorporate colorful images or graphics, but those items must reflect a brand's image and follow data.  

Jun 25, 12:16PM EDT0
What is the best type of content you can use for an infographic? Do you like infographics? Why or why not?
Jun 25, 12:50AM EDT0

Morning Gary,

Personally, I love infographics as they tend to be visually compelling and contain graphics and data that educate/inform/persuade an audience. They are also easy to add to social media posts as well as for presentations (Powerpoint/Slide Share). Statistics and percentages work well for infographics as do bullet points. I also like to see fun facts (from reliable sources) inserted in infographics.  

Jun 25, 12:03PM EDT0
What challenges lie for brands when developing and engaging in authentic conversations? How do you know what will work?
Jun 24, 8:08PM EDT0

Hello Jannatul,

Great question! One has to continually listen to a brand's audiences to develop authentic engagement with them. This is a continual process involving responding to questions, doing social media monitoring, and responding to customer queries. That's how an organization/brand can have authentic discussions with clients/customers. 

Jun 25, 12:11PM EDT0
What is the range of urgent, on-call solutions you have available for clients in times of crisis, and what are the parameters you have set that defines a crisis?
Jun 24, 6:16AM EDT0

Hi PaintMeBlue86,

Ideally, we like to work with our clients to stay ahead of a crisis by developing processes and procedures to prevent issues before they occur. Having a crisis action plan is critical to this process. Furthermore, these days, we often see crisis situations first pop up in the social media space. Our goal is always to protect and repair our clients’ reputations as quickly as possible. We encourage our clients to address issues head on while demonstrating how the issue of concern will be corrected. We’re set up to Iend support particularly messaging guidance on short notice, as the first 24 hours are essential to weathering a crisis.

Jun 25, 2:20PM EDT0
How do you go about the process of headline creation? What are your hacks to write a good headline?
Jun 24, 3:17AM EDT0

Hi Nick,

Headlines are, for me, the most difficult item to write for an article, website, etc. I typically write the copy and save the headline for last. The piece's overall theme usually helps me to devise a headline. Often, I'll seek input from a client or one of my colleagues to determine the final language for a headline.   

Jun 25, 11:58AM EDT0
What methods does Madeira use to build momentum while gaining public interest and support for a client's legislative agenda?
Jun 22, 11:17PM EDT0

Hi Darrel,

Some of the tactics we've used for clients have included letters to the editor (LTEs) sent and published in local newspapers; social media campaigns targeted to a certain area/individual (Facebook and Twitter); appearances on local broadcast news outlets; articles featured in print and electronic newspapers, to name a few. 

Jun 25, 11:48AM EDT0
What are some of the nonprofit organizations' policy missions you have championed and which of these are you most proud of and why?
Jun 22, 8:46AM EDT0

Hi Joseph V,

The bulk of my career in marketing and communications has involved non-profits, including working at a performing arts facility in Florida and a national non-profit seeking treatments and a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease. My work at both these organizations taught me the value of promoting worthwhile causes (cha,mpioning the arts; seeking to save lives from a deadly disease), while honing my communication and leadership skills. My job at the performing arts facility impacted me for several reasons: 1) I worked my way "up" from an operations assistant to facility manager and got more responsibility on the marketing and financial ends of the organization; and 2) I saw the physical restoration of the facility while successfully promoting the facility's rooms to the community for meetings and events.  

Jun 22, 11:56AM EDT0
What strategies are utilized by Maderia in order to promote a successful collaborative environment when becoming an extension of an organisation's existing team?
Jun 22, 8:04AM EDT0

Hello Junnah,

We often begin our process by building a research-based communications plan. This provides a roadmap to achieve goals while allowing us to outline roles and measurable checkpoints. In addition, have a detailed onboarding process where we confirm who on client's team will want to be part of the content review process. Lastly, we  verify style and communication preferences (tone of the organization's website/press releases/web articles; whether they prefer in-person meetings, emails or conference calls).

Jun 22, 12:12PM EDT0
How do you go about customizing your packages in order to fit the needs of your clients and what are some of the complications you have encountered with tailoring a service?
Jun 21, 11:27PM EDT0

Hello Mayura,

My supervisor, who is the Principal of my company, does a basic needs assessment when she initially meets with our clients. She asks questions like, "What challenge(s) led you to seek out PR services?", "What steps have you taken to address these needs?", and "What are your goals for this campaign/project?". Sometimes a client may not know what (s)he wants to achieve or even attempt to alter strategies and tactics when we've already launched a campaign with them. In those instances, we try to re-direct the client to list both short and long-term goals his/her organization wants to achieve. 

Jun 22, 11:37AM EDT0
What is the most difficult kind of article you ever had to write?
Jun 19, 10:05PM EDT0

Hi Karen,

Eleven years ago, when I was working at the ALS Association as a Communications Coordinator, I wrote about an artist with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - aka Lou Gehrig's disease). Most people typically live 2-5 years with the disease, but I had gotten to know a lot about her from her family. The fact she continued to paint in spite of the disease was inspiring, but you could see, over time, how the disease physically impacted her. When I learned she had passed from the disease, I felt upset for quite some time. 

 

Jun 20, 11:34AM EDT0
Does one need a formal education to become an effective copywriter?
Jun 19, 5:47PM EDT1

Hello Monjy,

Not necessarily, Monjy. As I stated in a previous post, I started out drafting and editing copy at an organization earlier in my career, which was a few years after I graduated from college. You can take courses online at Linda.com (not affiliated) or consider volunteering with a non-profit and offer working alongside that organization's communications manager to see how that individual writes copy or content. 

Jun 19, 6:31PM EDT1
What strategies have you developed to create copy that help brands enhance their credibility?
Jun 19, 3:23PM EDT0

Hi Maram,

I haven't developed any strategies, per se, but do look at the end goals of what a brand or organization aims to achieve. Is the organization looking for donors or people to become brand advocates? Are they wanting people to register for an event? Copy or content that I draft serves as an extension of a brand's voice. If brands aren't engaging in authentic conversations with their customers, in the long-term, they tend to lose credibility and business. 

Jun 19, 3:38PM EDT0
Would you reject a writing job, no matter how high the pay is, just because it goes against your personal principles?
Jun 19, 4:49AM EDT1

Hi And_IV,

Absolutely! There are certain subjects I would never advocate for as they go against my personal values (environmental degradation, religious fundamentalism, to name a few). I tend to write about topics that benefit the greater good (health and wellness, organizational development). I also think a person's work is better when (s)he writes about topics that interest them.  

Jun 19, 11:41AM EDT1
Do you also have a personal blog that you can share?
Jun 19, 1:58AM EDT0

Hi Valerii,

I don't currently have one but feel free to follow me on Twitter at @SBMD8410. 

Jun 19, 11:42AM EDT0
What do you enjoy writing about the most?
Jun 19, 12:34AM EDT0

Hello Luisab0,

Professionally, it involves health-related topics infusing people's personal stories. Personally, I enjoy writing about hobbies like my perfume collection or family travels. I'll usually share these with my Toastmasters group.

Jun 19, 11:44AM EDT0
What are some common mistakes copywriters make, which make their work mediocre compared to others?
Jun 18, 8:14PM EDT0

Hello Rdcsalt,

To me, good copywriting involves writing and re-writing copy or content. An initial draft is usually not the final product. A good copywriter also relies on feedback from clients and customers. Although copywriting can be creative, it is also data-driven.  

Jun 19, 11:34AM EDT0

What are the aspects of being a copywriter that you enjoy the most?

Jun 18, 7:37PM EDT0

Good evening Chinks,

I most enjoy the information gathering and collaboration phase of writing copy. Whether it involves interviews or reviewing data, I like to see the pain point copy will be addressing. As far as collaboration, I receive feedback from colleagues or clients as to whether the copy/content drafts need additional editing. 

Jun 18, 7:45PM EDT0
Copywriting involves a great deal of creativity. What things do you do to spark creativity and come up with new ideas?
Jun 18, 8:44AM EDT0

Hi Jlansangan2,

I've found creative ideas come to mind when I'm doing other things, such as working out or walking my dog. I try to keep a pen and paper - or my smartphone - always handy, so I can write a note for future reference. Other than that, I'm a member of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and also receive daily email updates from "Bulldog Reporter." Bulldog Reporter highlights communication-related practices. Those sources can provide me with creative ideas. Lastly, I'll read the news via Daily Skimm (theskimm.com), which provides current and emerging news topics that can impact our lives.    

Jun 18, 11:39AM EDT0
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