Monday, August 3, 2009

With Love, Philly Wordsmith

This new campaign for Philadelphia has me thinking. What would Philadelphia look like as the writer of these notes? Philadelphia is writing promotional and witty letters to these groups of people (gays, historians, art lovers, suburbanites) that it's trying to attract.

What would this quintessential, inviting Philadelphia look like? First, the pen. It would be a quill. Obviously.

Some possibilities for Human Philadelphia:

1) A really, really gay Ben Franklin. He prefers "Benjamin."

2) An old woman from South Philadelphia.

3) A college hipster. Skinny jeans and bright Nike High Tops and all.

Now, you! Who would Human Philly be?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My New Fave Commercial

The new Orkin Commercial where a huge cockroach shows up at a woman's door is the most subtly funny commercial I've ever seen.

I don't know if this subtle humor is on purpose because lord knows commercial humor is almost never subtle. Even the shockingly effective caveman commercials are pretty in your face. There is a bit of subtle humor in there, but now every one gets it.

In my particular favorite, the giant roach shows up with a pizza and with perfect timing at the end, asks if he could 'place it on her table' even though she didn't order it. He has the most creepy voice possible AND he drives off in a straight-up creepy pedophile car.

Good work, whoever is responsible for this ad.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Have Been a Naughty Blogger

So, as you can see, I have not posted anything in over a month.

(Gasps! Shocked Ohhs! "I am not mad, I'm just disappointed" head shakes.)

I know. I know. I have broken the cardinal rule of blogging. I've heard that you should post an entry to your blog from anywhere between 3 times a day to once a week. To you I say, what's that like to be so anal?

I am back, kids. The Philly Wordsmith is back. And she is rarin' to sink her teeth into some Addy topics. Maybe even some writing topics. Maybe some website topics. Communication? It could be anything. Literally anything. Maybe tomorrow I'll be a florist. Point is, watch out.

Seriously, though. Sorry. The long absence won't happen again. Dry your tears. I've been working hard and writing articles for AdNews. No excuses, I know. I heart you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pandora - Post No Bills

The following is a bit of a whine so skip it unless you want your IQ to drop a couple.

We all like money. I like it. You like it. Don't lie. So I know that the very awesome Pandora music player also likes it. But, dammit, stop interrupting my music with Smelly Dove Body Wash ads. I'm done with it.

I am so in love with you, Pandora, and now all these ads started getting between us. You play awesome music and then all the sudden I am being told to smell better (peachy or kiwi-ish, no less.)

I know, I know nothing good comes for free, but what about our love, Pandora? Our mutual love of beautiful music. You even introduce me to new and beautiful music! Who thought life could be so sweet. I was raised on Napster -- when it was FREE -- and then was made to feel like a criminal when record companies started suing middle-schoolers for having too much ripped Metallica.

Isn't it enough that you have a little ad on the side? It doesn't interrupt anything and I see it there. I'll click it if I'm interested.

When all is said and done, I will still listen to you, though. If you haven't checked it out, yet, here ya go: Believe me, it's worth it. It's like being a really lazy radio DJ.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Letters To A Young Copywriter

Dear Susie,

I was pleased to receive your letter. I can see why you might be attracted to Copywriting and I will share with you how and why I got into the business.

First, I am passionate about language. Second, it is fun to use big words that your "normal" friends don't know. Saying words like "vicissitude" sends your normie friends into a fury because they feel dumber than you. Copywriters, as a rule, are superior to those around them. Remember that.

If you are not incredibly good looking, give up your dream now. I mean, model good-looking.

We tend to be deeper than most. Start feeling your feelings if you haven't already.

Now about this business of breaking into Copywriting. How do you do it? You fight. You knock on doors. No, kick down doors. You call up strangers. Be everywhere. Have "Eye Of The Tiger" playing in your mind always.

My final (and unoriginal - check out Writing Down The Bones) thought is this: when you get to second grade start telling people that's what you do. You write. You are a writer. Be a stubborn little bastard about it. That is what you do, that is your profession. They will doubt you, Susie. They will say, "Emily, stop robbing convenient stores..." Er, wait. They will say, "You're only 7 years old, you can't be a writer and here's why your short story sucks." Then you kick them in sweet spot and run. Run like lightning, grab your pen, and write like you got somethin' to prove.

I hope this helps, young one. Keep it real.

Yours In Pen,

Emily, the Philly Wordsmith

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Letters To A Young Copywriter

In the true style of "Dear Abby," I bring you the following....

Dear Philly Wordsmith,

My name is Susie. I am 5 years old and I think I am your biggest fan. I also have blonde pig-tails. Aren't I adorable? Do you think wearing my hair in pig-tails will give me swine flu?

Anyhow, the reason I'm writing is because it is my dream to become a brilliant Web Copywriter like yourself. I also want to be as beautiful and talented on guitar as you are, but mostly a brilliant Copywriter. How do I do it?

With Cutie-Pieness,

Stay tuned for my response...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

4 Points From "Breaking Boundaries"

Last night, I attended PRSSA's "Breaking Boundaries: The Revolution of Social Media." The event was a success. Thank you to panelists and moderator: @jerseycoach, @gloriabell, @blankbaby, @k8teshields, @podcaststeve, @conversationage, and @gloriabell. Here's what I learned.

1 - The principle of paying it forward. Thanks to Gloria and Moderator, Rick Alcantara, for bringing this up. The way to attract people in the virtual social world is the same as in the real world. Be kind, generous, and pass things along.

2 - Valeria Maltoni and Kate Shields brought up and emphasized the fact that people trust their peers more than they trust marketers. That fact probably explains why Social Networking sites are the most popular and visited sites. It also explains why a user-generated site like is visited more often than any other travel site.

3 - Panelist Steven Lubetkin reminded us that customers are actively looking for our product online. Social Networking makes it easy for marketers to tap into communities that already want our product.

4 - Right off the bat, Scott McNulty made the point that Social Media is two-way. Don't do just all listening or all talking. Do a bit of both.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How Facebook Has Made Me A Better Copywriter

When you write on your personal Facebook Wall it is like writing a personal headline for that day (or week, or minute.) Your friends seem to respond to some more than others. Ever notice that? So, I set out to see if there are some common themes in the Wall posts or "headlines" that get the most attention. Because if I can figure out which headlines cause people to take action by responding to my post, then that will help me figure out what headlines will cause customers to take action in general - which is the goal of copywriting.

Four common themes:

1 - Something sexy. Not too sexy because we don't want to get into T.M.I. territory here, but an interesting substory to my personal story is my romantic life.

2 - Things that make people jealous. I posted that I was going to the beach on a Monday and people really responded.

3 - Humorous things. This is probably #1. Any time I write something funny, I get sooo many responses. Either people saying a simple 'ha!' or people trying to be even funnier or add to the funny.

4 - Mention love for something others already know about. This includes bands, celebrities, coffee drinks, etc. If they also like that product (or if they hate it) they respond.

If you've noticed some common take action themes, please leave them as a comment. I'm sure there are many more!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Project H.O.M.E. Writing Group's First Meeting

Thanks to Richard, Julie, Shirley, Renee, and Troy for making our first meeting a great success.

We talked about what we wanted to do with the group. Then we did some writing exercises and shared our work. In the spirit of Joe Brainard, the first exercise was beginning each sentence with the phrase, "I remember." Then, for fun, we played with alliteration.

Unfortunately, due to the residents' schedule consistency will be a challenge, but I think we can meet it.

Anybody have any ideas for writing exercises we could use next time?

I think next week I'll post our writings and we will receive Julie's first submission for group feedback. So stay tuned!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Social Media Club Event in Philly: 3 Highlights

First of all, thanks @cecilyk and @gloriabell for putting on such a great event. Super informative and interactive and I love that it was an all-star babe panel. And check out a great recap of the event by @krisis at his website: Crushing Krisis.

Anywho, here's some stuff I learned.

1 - Thanks @BethHarte for this one: It's more than Return on Investment. It's sometimes immeasurable to see Returns on Engagement, Information, and Influence.

2 - Probably the #1 Reason why a client should invest in Social Media: Your competitors are already doing it or are about to. It's like back in the day when a client was perhaps weary of the new-fangled e-mail. 10 years ago, "Why do I need e-mail? Paper mail is just fine, thank you very much." Yikes.

3 - This comes from @oliviarabe: There's 3 things you should be doing when participating in a Social Media Network: Entertaining, Educating, and providing a Utility. It reminded me of the notion of "sharability" (not to be confused with Budweiser's "Drinkability.") I advise any company that is providing Social Content to ask themselves during the content creation process: "Would I want to share this with my friends?"

So, thanks Philly SMC for a great panel. Check out SMC's site here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Four Insights From Philly Interactive Event

First of all, thanks Philadelphia Interactive Marketing Association ( for putting on such a fabulous and informative event called "Monetizing Video Online: Transforming Digital Pennies Into Dollars."

1. "Trust Your Agency." This pertinent quote and opinion was shared by two of the Panelists, Kevin McGurn from and Brendan Gallagher from Digitas Health. What they seemed to mean by this was that clients need to trust their advertising agencies to place ads and come up with a game plan to achieve the company's specific goals. The internet especially has a lot of under-researched possibilities and sometimes immeasurable ROIs. However, the medium has been around long enough that a good agency will know how to incorporate a New Media game plan as part of an over all campaign.

2. "Trained Viewer." This was an extremely interesting point made by all of the panelists. Regarding shows and movies, the consumer or viewer accepts and understands commercial interruptions. However, people are not willing to accept YouTube interruptions. Nor are they willing to accept having their internet content interrupted. The consumer gets "used to" or "trained" participating with content in a certain way particular to the medium. The trick is getting people to the point where they accept certain interruptive aspects of the internet and learning what their limits are.

3. "Capturing Lightning In A Bottle." This was the pet phrase for discussing utilizing YouTube to make clients money. I suppose agencies like to make promises that they can deliver. Obviously. But I refuse to believe monetizing YouTube is impossible and the charms are not as fleeting as every one seems to believe. Blendtec is the classic example. Susan Boyle is another. Let's get a true understanding of what makes a video truly viral or "sharable."

4. "Sharability." Not to be confused with Budweiser's "Drinkability." This is my new favorite word and will be applied to every thing I produce on the internet. The best quality of this word is that it focuses the content on the consumer. It forces the producer to ask herself, "if I am the viewer, will I share this with my friends or will I be bored out of my mind?" It forces creators to be a little more viewer-centric rather than company-centric.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lessons From A Good Old-Fashioned Ad Man

As a relative newbie and fresh face in the Ad Universe, I felt I needed some guidance, strength and mentorship from a seasoned pro. For a while there I launched into New Media's Social Networks and how to communicate through those avenues. I was also reading a bunch of branding books and blogs and still do, but I needed to dip my toes into the classics.

My choice is none other than "Ogilvy On Advertising."

I've never read anything so beautiful and opinionated and brash and straight-forward. While there are so many striking lines and statements, my favorite has illuminated and verified my recent personal experience.

"If you will take my advice, don't get a job in advertising unless it interests you more than anything in the world."

Those words will rest in the bottom of my heart, Mr. Ogilvy.

Armed with pictures and littered with jokes, this classic will remain close to my pitter-patterin' heart. My eyes are bright and my tail bushy. I stand here on the cusp, Mr. Ogilvy, ready to make you proud. Now let's make some art that changes people.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Twitter University

Here's to those who made this @PhillyWordsmith what I am today.

Allow me to give a bit of background to my story. I was a bit of a late bloomer in my love for advertising and copywriting. I knew I wanted to be a writer with my English degree, but I wasn't sure how. I resigned myself to having to be broke ass. My last semester at college, on a whim and because it fit in my schedule, found me signing up for an Intro to Advertising course. I graduated and with English degree in hand and one Intro course under my belt, I actually feel further ahead than many of my peers who took four years to hone their craft.

Impossible you say? Nothing is impossible when you're looking to work in Advertising.

Here's the deal. I owe a large part of my knowledge and already found success to Twitter University.

I had to catch up and I had to learn at break neck speed how to be a successful copywriter in Advertising. On top of that, with the economy being where it was and the trend in news reports was encouraging everyone to throw themselves in front of a bus because they would never find work again, I had my work cut out for me.

My good friend and One Fine Philly told me to get on this little thing called Twitter. Almost immediately, Twitter became my Marketing and Advertising crash course. It was like all these professors would throw out head lines and I got to pick what was pertinent for me that day and what wasn't. It was like being in a University filled with a bunch of professors cracked out on Red Bull.

I had fantastic accessibility to those Twitter professors across the country as well. I got to talk with and ask questions to award-winning, successful authors who I would have NEVER met outside of Twitter U.

I continue to learn and grow every single day and I get to pass on what my Twitter teachers have passed on to me. It's a beautiful thing. So thanks Twitter teachers. Especially: @ingridwiese, @steveisphilly, @robbralow, @writingprof, @newtbarrett, @themarketingguy, @sunswept, @armano, @pgillin, @thegrok, @copyblogger, @juntajoe, and @sethgoldstein. I am sure I have forgotten some because there have been so many!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hamsters Driving Cars

The Kia Soul - A New Way To Roll. This is the new campaign for the very new and very hip Kia Soul. --Watch ad here:

A couple of personal experiences have happened around this commercial that I'd like to share.

One, I am in my room doing important and smart things (finding the cure for the common cold or something) and my friend out in the living room calls me to come and look at a commercial. She says, "Look. Look. Aww." The cute, furry animals got her. That got me thinking. Why would they use little hamsters? I get the other ones are just running on their wheels and such, but there's other ways to get the same message across without hamsters. I wonder if the sole purpose of the hamsters is because they're cute and furry. It worked on my friend enough to where she wanted to pass it along to me.

Two, a bunch of us are hanging out with my friend in the hospital. Same hamster commercial comes on. One guy, the only guy in the room, says that it's a commercial for a Scion. (Uh-Oh!) I say, no it's Kia. He insists that it's Scion. Eventually I convince him that it's a Kia and he says, "Yeah, they had trouble ripping off stuff before. They got sued for using someone else's distinctive headlights shape." Careful, Kia!

So, two things learned. One little commercial. Moral of story one: cute, furry things sell. Moral of story two: if you're selling a cool-people car, make sure it's unique and original.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Twitterer's Open Letter To The @Oprah

Dear Oprah,

Hi there. Thanks for coming. How's life?

Listen, I heard about your foray into Twitterville. It is an exciting place so warmest welcomes. But, Rah, (can I call you Rah?) there's some things you should know.

First and foremost your avatar: I am quite proud of you for including a cute furry baby animal in your picture. I have chosen this same tactic and I believe if I hadn't I would have 2 followers. People love them some baby cuteness.

An analogy: Twitter really is like a little town. A town that is a little cracked-out and loves to talk. As in small towns, it is mostly friendly, but there is the occasional grump or the town drunk, but overall people really want to help. Also, keep in mind that if you actually visited a small town and in this small town people could communicate telepathically, you would be mobbed.

And so my theory. I believe your joining Twitter is all a ploy to show CNN and Ashton Kutcher that you can hit 2 million followers without batting an eyelash. You don't have to tweet one GD thing and people will come running to follow you. So show them, Rah. Show them who's really the Twitter King. Within 24 hours you had something like 600,000 followers. Show them who's boss. Tell them you'll race them to 5 billion Twitter Followers. My bet's on you.

- PhillyWordsmith

P.S. Holla if you want to give me a car or some prize or something: @PhillyWordsmith

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Social Media's Most Obvious Necessity

I've read a lot about Social Media. There are basic features mentioned in each and every article about SM's fundamentals: honest, short, informative, and fun.

One, however, is so obvious we fail to mention it: consistency.

You could have the greatest, most honest, most funny posts, but if you only do them once a year you're virtually invisible. Now, do not sacrifice quality for quantity, but if you have one post on your blog then you are virtually invisible.

The other downfall of inconsistency is that you're unable to work out your SM muscle. Web 2.0 is an ever-evolving beast that takes quite a bit of effort, patience, and sharpness to keep up with. If you're not on top of your game, you simply won't be able to keep up with the pace. Many people don't know that MySpace is all but cooked for any one other than musicians. Anyone staying on top of trends knows this.

Think about it like this. In the real world, you wouldn't disappear for a week without telling any one. You wouldn't stop communicating with your friends and family. Hopefully anyway. You can't build worthwhile relationships without consistency both online and off.

A great example of consistency that I've seen is This writer posts often on her blog and Tweets about her great posts. They are fun, informative, and consistent. Keeps me coming back.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Erase Your Identities... become one identity! I'm thinking of the future here people. Let's not compartmentalize. Integration is the key to success!

Think of it, one personality across all social frontiers: real life, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, web page. Does this mean the end of a division between work and personal life?

I had the tendency to put connections into segments and not let them meet, mingle, or know each other. Why did I do this? Because I had sort of multiple identities. Like a chameleon. I do not recommend this. Gets confusing and it's hard to keep up. Of course, this requires being an upstanding citizen. Facebook revelations (to other friends and even employers) can ruin a reputation. FB really puts the "Deb" in Debauchery.

This all applies to brands and companies as well. Make sure you're behaving. Or we'll find out about it. Also, make sure your brand isn't a chameleon - audiences can't keep up and it will be exhausting for you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Entire Article About Being Nice

This has been my greatest secret weapon in business and it takes very little effort.

The amazing thing about being nice to people is that usually, no matter what, they feel like they have to be nice back. Or, at least cordial. What to do if it's not easy for you to be nice? Well, then fake it for crap's sake.

What happens when people enjoy being around you? They prefer to do business with you. I prefer doing business with people that are nice to me. I mean, that's just basic. Now, this is all not to say,
hey, let's make everything free and easy baby. Ya know, eventually, momma's gotta get paid.

But it's way easier to give my money to a nice person than it is to give it to a d-bag.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Is TV and Print Really Only One-Way?

At the risk of sounding like a new media heretic, I have to refute the proposition that TV/Print is talking at the customer and that there is no interaction.

One of the bonuses, they say, of social media is the direct interaction and connection between consumers and businesses. This is true and innovations in this frontier are being created at a breakneck pace.

But wait a minute. In my experience, I absolutely interact with Print and TV advertisements. If done properly, every Print and TV ad is a story. Everyone has experience knowing what it's like to interact with a story.

I would have to argue that the connection between listener and teller of the story (even if teller is TV) is an intimate one. One where messages are sent and received. The message sent by the listener or reader is this: relating. Relating leads to action. If it's a fiction romantic piece maybe that action means crying. If it's a company's story I relate to then the action is buying.

Customers do have the power of response. When they see a TV Commercial, they either relate or they don't. If they do, they buy. If they don't, then the message goes unremembered and the two-way communication has failed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The New Resume

In my new quest to become the best at everything and get jobs, I have had to take long hard looks at my resume. One thing I've discovered: it's gotta be online.

Recently, there was a book written by Dan Schawbel called "Me 2.0." I have recommended it to my former professors to pass along to students and even use themselves so they can stay abreast of the shifting sands. The days of hard copy resumes and portfolios is almost over.

Now, no one is recommending that you never leave the chair that sits at your desk, but it is becoming truer and truer that your online presence is just as important as your real world presence.

Right now, an online presence puts you ahead of the pack. In a few years, it will be expected. The bar will keep getting raised. It is up to you to keep up and have fun in the process.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Music To Write By

Hey you writers - are you stuck?

Here's a trick I love. Listening to music. Especially if I'm writing for a company. It helps to listen to music that speaks to the industry I'm writing for. If I'm writing for the Board of Tourism for a Tropical Island, I'm listening to Calypso music. If I'm writing for a company that has lots of machinery and conveyor belts, I listen to techno. If I'm writing for an Italian restaurant, I listen to old school Italian music. Put on some Frank Sinatra and the words just flow out of me.

Some industries don't have an obvious soundtrack, but use your imagination and you'll be able to find a suitable genre that will get the gears going.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Scrabbler's Lament

This is to all my Scrabble homies: keep it real.

So, this post has not much to do with Copywriting. If you're a writer, you love words. Or, at least, I hope you do. If you love words, then you love the game of Scrabble.

I am in intense competition with a few people on Facebook's Scrabble App. It is fierce and heartbreaking. Here is the worst feeling in the world: being behind in the score, having one or two seven letter words to put in, and there's nowhere to put it. You search and search but, alas, find nothing.

I write this post in mourning of a seven-letter word that could have been, but never had the chance to live.

Emily, you are being dramatic, you say. But no, if you are a Scrabbler, you know. You know my lament well. Do not shed a tear for me. I'll be OK, but remember me when you are able to put that seven-letterer in.

I will think of you, seven-letterer. I will pour some of a 40 oz. on the sidewalk and you will be remembered.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Rascal's Guide To Winning People Over

Would you like to know how I make friends?

One word, (maybe not a real word, but close enough. And what is a
fake word anyway? It's a word if I say it is!) three syllables: Goofiness.

"But, Emily, Goofiness does not belong in a business setting."

Au Contraire, Professional Business Person. Of course, I understand that being the fun person has certain more appropriate moments. But let's not all get sucked into the void of sameness. I want people to know I can make 'em laugh. I also want them to know that I am incredibly smart, which people can recognize immediately. I have noticed there is something in the eyes that reveals a certain savvy.

My goofiness comes out in my writing and in pretty much every single correspondence I have with anyone. My Twitter Pic is a kitten wearing a funny hat.

In these dark and gloomy times, we all need to be around a bright spot. I try to fashion my writing and myself to be that bright spot. I have gotten around extremely important people from extremely important companies and just been goofy. Most love it. Others just look at me like I've got three heads. That's OK. I take it in stride. I don't want to be around people who hate fun anyway.

Don't impose limitations on your sense of humor. Spread the light and the love. I better stop, I'm starting to sound like a total hippie.

Friday, April 3, 2009

10 Ways To Become An Expert In Anything

As a writer, I have to be a bit of an expert on whatever I'm writing about. If there's no knowledge and fact, then the writing comes out as vague generalities that don't get anything sold. So for me, writing begins and ends with research. Here are my methods...

1. Read the book.

2. Read the blogs.

3. Attend the events.

4. Meet the people.

5. Meet the teachers.

6. Attend a class.

7. Follow the Tweets.

8. Read the NY Times articles.

9. Ask other experts.

10. Write about it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fun With Analogies!

I love analogies. They are so basic that they are sometimes overlooked.

When I have absolutely zero understanding of something, the best way to explain is to place it into something I already know about. You'll notice my blog posts riddled with analogies. You'll also notice I love reading blog posts with analogies.

Here is my favorite recent analogy: The internet is like a town. Web pages are like little stores, clubs, and sometimes people. Would you go into a store if the lighting was wrong or you couldn't find anything or the salesperson wasn't helpful? I try to make sure all these real-life features are taken care of in the virtual world. Smart, easy-to-navigate web page design and copy that is informative and fun are the keys to a professional-looking store. I could keep going with this analogy, but I'll let you do the rest if you care to do so.

Analogies are to concepts what translation is to language. I don't know how to speak your language, put it into mine! I like to understand, so help me to understand.

Please take this last moment to reflect on the previous paragraph where I made an analogy out of analogy. I was quite pleased.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Downfall Of Specialization

It was said to me, "The more you learn, the more you earn." But who has time to learn anything outside of their area of specialization? Every subject now has a endless library of books, blogs, and websites dedicated to it. With all the information available, it seems impossible to know everything about a given subject. There was a time when having your hands in a little bit of everything was revered. Now everybody's gotta be an expert. This, I think, is a mistake.

Ben Franklin wore many hats and look at the impact he had on advancing American culture. He was an inventor, publisher, statesman, landlord, writer, and more. Franklin was able to come up with ideas because he knew how systems interacted and affected each other. If he only knew how a printing press worked and refused to truly investigate anything else, there is no way we would have the libraries or the communications tools that we have today.

This post isn't about Ben Franklin. Rather, it is encouragement to all of us to be like him and explore different roads that have absolutely nothing to do with our "area of expertise."

Copywriters need to have naturally interested minds or else they won't want to write about the subject they've been paid to write about. It will be boring and without passion. I believe my job is to be a passionate learner and then a passionate conveyor of subjects. Like when you hear a song you fall in love with on the radio. You buy the artist's cd, memorize all the lyrics, and insist on playing it for your friends in the car.

I am a writer, but I am more than that. I play guitar. I read lots of books about branding and social media and fiction. Science and metaphysics are fascinating to me. In my opinion, "How It's Made" is one of the best shows on television. I wish I could list to you all of my interests, but there are simply too many.

Here's a great way to start becoming fascinated by the world again and this is something I myself do. A repairman comes to fix your hot water heater. Ask him if he will show you and tell you about what he is doing as he's doing it. He will probably be surprised and honored that you're interested in his work. People love to be teachers. Let them teach you.

5 Reasons Why Every Writer Needs To Be On Twitter

I went to a PR function for young PR professionals. PR pros have to be good writers/communicators of information. One of the panel speakers mentioned Twitter and out of a couple hundred young and hip professionals, none of them seemed to have any idea about it. They have five hundred friends on Facebook, but no Twitter account. This is a mistake.

What has happened for me:

1) Increased access to other like-minded copywriters and marketers across America.

2) A step ahead of most of my fellow writers who could care less about the innovations happening in their industry.

3) Practicing sharing knowledge, rather than hoarding it and being cutthroat. So many people are paranoid about this economy that they're forgetting about that whole relationship-building thing.

4) It is just so cool to have people follow you, give you feedback, and pass along your little posts.

5) Blog promotion and blog discovery! I have found some incredible and informative blogs from Tweets.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Oh, Twitter, When Will People Stop Being Too Good For You?

So I go to this advertising event and a guy - an “expert on internet marketing” - from a major media consulting firm does not Twitter.

I asked him a few questions about Twitter. Again, he is supposed to be an expert on how to make companies money by using methods such as Twitter. He answered the questions intelligently and in a friendly manner. Great! Then I asked, "So, are you on Twitter?" I assumed the answer would be yes and was going to follow up with a follow on Twitter. Instead he said no and, caught off guard, I said, "Why not!?"

"Oh, I'm just not that exciting a person to follow."

Huh? This statement said two things and neither of them what he literally said. It said to me: a) I am too cool to be on Twitter and b) I am going to make fun of you for being on Twitter.

You may be thinking, "Philly Wordsmith, you're being a little sensitive, dontcha think?"


If you're an expert in social media, get the hell involved in social media. If you're so excited about these innovations and your job, then start experimenting and stop judging.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Method For Getting to a Product's Soul

I've devised a new system of getting to the heart and soul of a product. I'm going to call it, "The Then-What System."

An example will work best to explain.

Let's say as a brand new product, Axe Body Spray comes to a marketer. Axe says, "hey, we've got this body spray that makes dudes smell good. Please make dudes buy it." Well, every marketer knows you've got to hit the emotional sweet spot of a product. Sure, it'll make you smell good, but so what? The potential buyer needs to know why this product is going to change his life.

Here's where The Then-What System comes in. It works in two ways: the customer with the product and the customer without it.

Customer with product: gets Axe Body Spray. Then what? Sprays it on. Then what? Smells good. Then what? Doesn't smell. Then what? Won't turn people off with odor. Then what? Won't turn girls off with stinkiness! (Now we're onto something) Then What? More chances with girls! Then what? Get laid!

Customer without product: doesn't get Axe Body Spray. Then what? Well, then I'll stay the same, which is sometimes stinky. Then what? If I'm sometimes stinky, that will gross people out. Then what? People won't want to be around me. Then what? I'll be alone. Then what? I'll be a loser. Then what? I'll die alone.

Seems dramatic, doesn't it? But it's the truth. Advertisers and marketers need to know what the potential consumer is thinking. Of course, you're not going to make a commercial of someone lying on his death bed because he didn't get Axe. Or could you? Point is, you could stop at any answer to the Then-What and play on that aspect of the product.

This system helps the marketer get into the head of the potential customer therefore making it much easier and effective sell. It's a thought organizer for my brain, for sure. The Then-What questions are especially great for the less sexy or unfamiliar product line and also company services. We're harnessing buyer motives with this system. I use it every time.

I know it works for me so maybe it will help you, too. Let me know how it works for you!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cool Guerilla Marketing Idea

Attention Moleskine Notebooks and/or competitors: this Philadelphia Copywriter has an idea. A BIG idea.

Place: Every park in every major city across the US. Also, college campuses.

People: Poets and writers.

Time: Springtime between 11:30am and 6pm.

Happening: Poets and writers are hired and given Company's notebooks and a homemade-looking sign that says, "Poems By Request. Free."

Photos are taken. Short poems are requested by passers-by.

Tagline: "Moleskine. Spreading the word."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why People Hate Your Company ...

...and therefore won't buy from you.

There is a deep mistrust in the American public consciousness at the moment. AIG, come on. Bonuses. Really? We want to trust our financial institutions and big companies. We want to know it's safe to eat a hamburger. Companies, you used to be able to get away with this lying. There are simply too many watchdog groups and forums for customer feedback. Companies are learning that the rules have changed. The American public has enormous access to information now and they are on to you.

Copy in company imaging has to be more than stats, figures, and numbers. It has to put a human face on otherwise untrustworthy companies. By becoming accessible, companies will save themselves from bankruptcy. Find marketing people who understand this need for trustworthiness.

It is more important than ever to have a great website. People cannot interact with a TV commercial. One practical and immediate solution is to respond and open yourself to feedback and criticism. The truth is always immediately uncomfortable, but it always promotes growth to bigger and better things.

Imagine if your company marketed the CEO's self-imposed pay/raise freeze so that employees would not have to be fired. Hundreds of jobs were saved because you denied yourself a 3 million dollar bonus. I don't need to do much here to convince you that sales and public awareness would absolutely skyrocket.

Click here for the NY Times article on Saturn's "We're Still Here" campaign. A great example of "putting a human face" on the public perception of an awful corporate regime.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

5 Tips on How to Thrive in a Bad Economy

This copywriter has absolutely no authority on the subject, but seems to be doing well. Here's what I'm doing:

1) Take advantage of all the special programs that the local and federal governments are offering. The Philadelphia Business Journal just did an article about free college courses for laid off workers.

2) Stop reading articles and watching news programs that tell you about how f*cked we all are. You'll just be feeding into the fear and paranoia that is contributing to MOST of the economic problem and the fear will paralyze you.

3) Volunteer somewhere. Anywhere. Teach a homeless person or underprivileged kid your trade. Doing this has made me feel so good and hopeful that if the Ramen noodles are just around the corner, so be it!

4) Read some books. Get on the front lines of your industry. Or start a project in a whole new industry. Learning new things builds passion and if you're passionate people will respond. I love being around people who are inspired because it's contagious. The root of "inspire" is "in spirit." It's like having a cheerleader follow you everywhere you go.

5) Better yet, write some books. I'm writing a novel about a Mexican immigrant. It is keeping the creative juices flowing and my interest in the beautiful and intriguing world around me.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Frank's Red Hot Radio

Have you heard the new Frank's Red Hot radio spots?

You know, the one where the old lady says, "I put that sh*t on everything." It's genius. They bleep out the curse word just enough so that you know for a fact she is saying "shit."

This spot is risky, bold and it's got everybody talking. They're not talking about hot sauce, of course, they're talking about the old lady and how funny the commercial is. You have a successful ad when average people are talking about it. I found myself saying to a friend of mine: "Have you heard the new Frank's Red Hot ad? The one where the old lady says, 'I put that shit on everything.' Well, I love it because the old lady swears AND because it's true. I really do put it on everything."

An already loyal customer spreading the word to someone who may not be. Encouraging them to try it. The call to action happens out of the customer's mouth. "You ever have Frank's hot sauce? Oh, you gotta try it."

Oh, and if your Grandma trusts it, you should too. After all, isn't she the ultimate chef?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

An Eco-Friendly Copywriter

This Philadelphia Copywriter is excited to attend the Go Green Expo this weekend at the Convention Center.

There are some fantastic speakers lined up. I can't walk around Philadelphia without being deafened by all the construction noise so I am especially excited about the "Building Green" talks. I'd really like to see some trees on top of buildings and such.

Also, the "Why Going Local Matters in the Going Green Movement" talks are particularly of interest to me because in an earlier blog post I emphasize the importance of a local Copywriter. I hadn't even considered the environmentally-friendly aspect of hiring local Freelancers.

Hope to see you there, fellow Earth lovers!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Touching You(r Heart) Innappropriately

I learned how to play with language in poetry class. Before that class, it was all grammar and essays. Where's the fun in rules? Luckily, writing poetry taught me that rules, once learned, should be broken. Be warned: break those rules at your own risk and only in order to produce a desired effect or result.
So what the eff does poetry have to do with copywriting? Copywriting plays with language to produce a desired effect in a reader/potential customer. The desired effect is usually to buy the company's product. But what is the immediate reaction that happens before the buying? There is an emotional response: desire.
Poetry or a song can make you long for a lover. Copy makes you long for a lipstick or a Sprite.
Let your copy touch hearts.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Art of Good Web Copy

There are 3 necessities of a successful Literary Webfomercial.

A book called "Cashing In With Content" says: "People don't want TV commercials on the web - they want information." Essentially, the quote says that when someone "googles" a topic, they want information about that topic. Information seeking is a simple, but profound truth for a web copywriter. And so the art of the "Literary Webfomercial" is born.

I am a strong believer in creating engaging text no matter what you are writing. Not every product lends itself to humor or narrative, but most do. The ones that don't can still have strong, excited language that draws a reader in. What is it about the regular TV infomercial that draws in the unsuspecting insomniac? Three reasons: a) the person is extremely excited about the product and b) the person gives you situational information on the product and c) they talk to the viewer as if they were literally in the same room.

Artful web copy combines these three elements, but only has written language to express them. The copywriter must have a background expertise in the functions of language in order to full develop all three elements of a "Literary Webfomercial."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Read This Company's Diary

Hey Copywriters, let's get back to our roots: ye olde pen and paper.

So, after about six hours of being hunched over my laptop, I stood up on stiff legs and bowed my head so that my neck cracked like thunderclaps. It was then that I was inspired to get back to the humble pen and paper. Not only for the practical reason of wanting to avoid some freakish, permanent damage to my spine, but also because there is something more intimate - primal, even - about holding a pen in your hand. You may say, I'm writing copy, companies don't want me to be intimate and primal. That would just be weird. My response: companies may not want it, but readers do.

Humans respond emotionally when they interact with other humans. They don't respond to robotic word lists. They will take advice from a voice quicker than just drab words. Good copywriters have the ability to give a website eyes.

Now, this art of giving website life becomes easier with a pen. Like writing in a diary. Only instead of writing about the new cute boy at school, you're writing about industrial machines or cat litter.

If the site is readable and human it becomes your helpful friend and not a brochure trying to sell you something. Don't take my word for it. Look around at the most successful websites in history and you'll notice that they act like an informative friend who happens to have exactly what you need. It's hard to say no to a friend.

So, get that pen in your hand and let your soon-to-be friends read your diary whose latest entry happens to be about car parts.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Advantage of a Local Freelance Writer

The writing process is an interactive one. The writer is able to sit in a restaurant and let smells, sounds, and sights over take her. She is able to watch the waiters and the customers talk and laugh. Let your copywriter see, feel, and hear the heavy machinery that makes your factories loud. The job of your copy writer is to translate the smells and sights into words that create the holographic entity your customers can feel when they read your brochure or web page copy. Invite the writer to come and experience what you have to offer your customers because it will show in more vivid descriptions and better understanding of your product and company. As a writer, if I just have to imagine a flower and describe it with words, there tends to be vague adjectives or fuzzy general language. No one wants to read that. When I see a flower right in front of me, the power of smell, color, vibrancy is easy to get down on paper. Your product then becomes not just a product, but a story and an experience. Don't make your patrons have to read a boring list of adjectives for your product or service. People like stories and they like to experience so let your writer give them both.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ladies, We're Gonna Get Lay'd

From the NY Times: Frito-Lay Tries to Enter the Minds (and Lunch Bags) of Women

Neuromarketing? Really?

Classy Writer Broad

Susanna Moore was in town today interviewing for a Professor position in the graduate creative writing program at Temple University (My Alma Mater - Go Owls!). She was positive and held an intense stare. Ms. Moore was more than happy to talk with me after her reading even though she was being whisked off like some harassed celebrity. She had a dry sense of humor and never laughed at her own effortless jokes. Long gray hair fell lightly around her shoulders as she talked about writing sex scenes and her "research" for such scenes. In a word: she was elegant.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Artists in Philadelphia

Just discovered Philly Art Blog. Great resource for the goingson around town.

Art Blog

The Hinge Cafe

Met with the lovely folks at the Hinge Cafe to talk about their marketing and copy needs. They have an amazing reputation for their culinary arts, but little to no reputation for their other Art House projects. How do we solve this? One of the ways: amazing copy. I'm coming up with some exciting ideas now.

Check it out: Hinge Cafe

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Adventures in Networking

"Lonewolfing" it doesn't work. The writer/composer/artist that is out of touch with her audience is in a sad, unproductive state. Get to know the world so they may get to know you. It's OK, they will love you. So, suit up, show up and be amazed at the results.

Amazing Talk About Writers

Training Manual for Receptionists/Customer Service Reps/Cashiers in Philadelphia

The first and most important rule is to act like it is not your job to be at the front of the store answering phones, exchanging moneys, etc. You must act like you are doing both a/ the customer and b/ some unnamed, absent underling you are covering for, a favor.

Proper Phone Etiquette suggests that you ask the useless boyfriend you are currently on the phone with to hold on 'one goddamn minute' before sounding annoyed and exhausted at the person calling on the other line. When answering quickly say: "Can I help you?" If the person has called with an inquiry please use one (or all, if caller is persistent) of the following responses: "I don't know," "Imma ask my manager," "There is nothing I can do," or "I'll put you through to the voice mail." Your true job is to get off the phone as soon as possible so that you may return to your previous phone call with that asshole boyfriend. If the customer is especially bothersome feel free to a/ walk away or b/ curse her out and then walk away.

Keep the bar set as low as possible. The last thing we as an organization need is expectations from our customers. We want them to come in hunched over, bracing for a fight. Make sure they know kindness will absolutely not be tolerated nor will it get them anywhere.
In a word, unnecessary hostility is key. You have a legacy and reputation to uphold, my new friend. Let us make the citizens of Philadelphia uncomfortable asking for help, as much as humanly possible.