The difficulty of writing copy for technical subjects

technical writerSo, when it comes to writing about a complex or technically difficult subject matter, a certain level of research is required to ensure that the content you provide is clear, concise, and factually correct.

The technical nature of complex copywriting projects means that it can be extremely challenging for even the most competent and experienced copywriters to construct content that is fit for purpose, especially if they lack the technical subject knowledge and background.

The good news is there are lots of tricks of the trade you can use in order to produce high quality content that is accurate, engaging, and powerful.

Here’s our guide to the techniques you can employ to create content that inspires action, no matter what the subject matter. After all, a good copywriter should be able to write about anything.

Start by gathering all the facts

Before you start any copywriting project, you should always begin by gathering as many facts and information about the subject you are going to be writing about. Collect and review all source material for the project and highlight any major features or benefits of the topic, service or product you are writing about.

Go back to basics

If you’re writing about a subject that is difficult to understand or complex, children’s books or school-books can be an invaluable source of information. They tend to cover a whole host of subjects and are written in a way that is much easier to understand than adult text.

A high tech dictionary will also prove invaluable if you’re a copywriter that writes a lot about complex subject matters.

Interview your client

Before you put pen to paper, make sure you understand your brief inside out! Clarify anything that you are uncertain about and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

It can really help to get the information you need by interviewing your client.

This will allow you to get a clear idea of the service or product that your client is offering, and extract all relevant information you need to complete the project you are working on to the highest possible standard.

Oh, and although the majority of copywriters are perfectionists, don’t be offended if your client asks you to make amendments to the first draft. This is often happens when copywriters are working on technical content.

We have recently worked alongside The National Renal Complement Therapeutics Centre in order to design and develop their website from scratch and were responsible for overseeing the content creation for the website. This was one of the most challenging projects we have worked on due to the technical nature of the subject matter. The National Renal Complement Therapeutics Centre specialise in atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome, eculizumab, C3 glomerulopathy and offer advice on the diagnosis and management of these rare conditions.

However, we have worked on a wide range of website content, for a variety of different sectors, so we were able to confidently adapt the style and tone of the content so that it was fit for purpose. You can check out our work here.

Choosing the best writing style for your website

Your website should not only reflect your brand identity, values, and philosophy, but it should also inspire action through the choice of words you use.

After all, a distinctive style and tone will not only help you to set yourself apart from your competitors, but it will also allow you to inject elements of your brand personality into your website.

And in today’s overpopulated digital world, it’s more important than ever before that you finely tune all elements of your website, if you stand any chance of optimising your reach and maximising engagement levels.

Here’s our guide to choosing the best writing style for your website.

Choosing a suitable tone

When it comes to choosing a suitable tone for your website, it’s important that you consider the personality of your brand and how you want your audience to perceive you.

There are a whole host of tones that you can use to bring your website to life however, the right tone for your website will depend on your brand identity. This tone should be consistent throughout your entire website, and most importantly, it should be clear, concise and impactful.

Choosing a suitable tone is a key part of the creative process. Here’s an insight into the tones you can choose from:

Direct

A direct tone is often used by brands wanting to reflect a conservative and traditional personality. Powerful, clear and professional, this tone is often used to instill trust and credibility.

Of course, direct language can also be used to motivate and empower.

Energetic

Informal language is becoming increasingly popular as brands seek to inject a healthy dose of fun and excitement into their website content.

Perfect for inspiring action and grabbing your audience’s attention from the second they land on your site, this style of writing sparks engagement, leaving your audience excited about who you are and what you have to offer.

Friendly

From the moment your customers land on your site, your ultimate goal should be to make them feel welcome, which is why so many brands opt for a friendly tone.

A friendlier tone tends to work best for family orientated brands looking to inject a warm, welcoming, and pleasant style into their website.

Bold

When choosing a style of language for your website, you should take into consideration the age and demographic of your target audience.

This will allow you to establish a tone that your target market will not only resonate with, whilst also encouraging interaction. For example, if you are talking directly to a young audience, use language that’s on their wavelength and a style of writing that reflects current trends.

We crafted highly engaging content for both AG Events and Scan Time. As you can see, the style and tone was adapted accordingly to reflect the brand identity of each business.

Old School: 4 great young-adult school stories

An Abundance of KatherinesJust a century ago, stories for teenagers, or ‘young-adult’ novels wasn’t even something that was on many publishers’s radars at all. The general feeling was that children didn’t read. However, this expectation has shifted dramatically in the past three decades

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

YouTube-star and young-adult sensation John Green is no stranger to fans of YA novels. His books have recently been turned into Hollywood movies, whilst An Abundance of Katherines remains his most spell-binding book to date.

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Twisted is a novel from Laurie Halse Anderson which examines the mindset of the typical American teenager. The story is told from the point of view of Tyler Miller. He was an average, overlooked high school student until the end of his junior year, where a graffiti prank led to him working all Summer to pay the fine for his misdemeanor. After the summer and upon his return to school, Tyler finds that the attitude of others towards him has changed, as have his muscles. I think Anderson has done an amazing job with Twisted. I was never bored and I sympathised with all the protagonist’s emotions and turmoil throughout.

Inexcusable by Chris Lynch

I’ve been wanting to read this book since before it was published. It’s about a high school boy whose girlfriend accuses him of raping her. Inexcusable is a challenging read but definitely an important book to help young adults navigate this confusing part of their lives, expecially when the boundaries of young-love can seem confusing to many. Keir (the lead) is a good guy. Or at least, he says he is. But some people seem to think differently. It starts to become obvious that Keir might be lying, and not only to the reader but to himself as well.

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

A controversial one this. Regan’s brother Liam struggles with the person he is during the day. Like the moon, Liam has chosen his female namesake, his true self, Luna, only comes out at night. This book is an amazing step forward in YA literature. Although you get a feeling for what the book is about by reading the back copy, sadly you don’t start to get the full spectrum of what this actually means until you reach the end of chapter one. Well worth a read this.


My thanks go to Furrowfield School. I spoke to somebody there during my research on this blog about the most loved young-adult books right now and they gave me some fantastic book suggestions to consider.

From A to B: stories of transformation

Gatsby_1925_jacketIn fiction, the Rags to Riches tale is one of the core basic plots of storytelling. Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are all some of the most popular examples of the archetype.

In the real world: rags to riches stories are common. Successful entrepreneurs who went from relative poverty or a challenging situation, to financial or personal success: Sir Richard Branson (Virgin), Sir Philip Green (Arcadia) and Mike Ashley (Sports Direct).

So, what is a ‘Rags to Riches’ story? This is where the modest and moral, yet downtrodden character achieves a great deal in the face of advertisty when their latent talents are finally displayed to the world at large.

In the real world this applies to anyone with a skill, ability or material which is not yet reaching its potential, due to a set of circumstances, sometimes beyond their control.

For businesses offering a produce or service, they often tend to play the role of the “Fairy Godmother”, giving the hero enough of a push to get to the right place and at the right time.

Some real world examples of businesses that offer such a service are construction companies Newcastle J3 Building Solutions who offer residential and commercial building services to assist you with your building project from conception to completion. On the digital side, web design north east provider Sleeky Web Design & Print who design fantastic websites for their clients, letting them tell their own story on the internet with a bespoke website.

In researching this article, I read the great book, ‘The Seven Basic Plot Types’ by Christopher Booker. A great read for anybody looking to learn more about the construction of fiction behind the veil.

So you want to be a builder? You should read these books about Construction

Sometimes, I just want to escape from society. On the weekends, I love to get outside and hike my way around the local countryside.

I’ve been thinking a lot about building my own property, or at least a small place to go to on weekends. Obviously, this is quite a large challenge. I’ve recently been looking for books which might help me reach that goal and teach me something about construction.

Below are some of the best books that I’ve found on the topic so far:


Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods by Joseph Iano

Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods by Joseph IanoWith over 30 different editions to date, this textbook is widely regarded as essential for construction engineers across the globe. The ‘Fundamentals of Building Construction’ continues to be used by thousands of students in schools of architecture, engineering, and construction technology every year.

Iano takes the reader on a long journey which starts with the types of nails used in basic construction tasks and ends with an understanding of the components of buildings and how they are constructed. Reading this book gives the reader the ability to stop at any site and have a fair idea of what exactly everybody on site is doing and what they have left to do.

Building Construction Illustrated by Francis D.K. Ching

Building Construction Illustrated by Francis D.K. ChingThis classic visual guide to the basics of building construction has recently been updated to contain the most up-to-date information. Building Construction Illustrated has provided outstanding introductions to the principles of building construction for students over the past 3 decades and beyond.

There are some who say this book has too much of a US-bias, but I think that this is a fairly decent read for anybody in the world if they want a more theoretical understanding of construction rather than just practical. you may want to be wary however that the measurements and units used in this book can be misleading.

Graphic Guide to Frame Construction: Details for Builders and Designers (For Pros by Pros) by Rob Thallon

Graphic Guide to Frame Construction: Details for Builders and Designers (For Pros by Pros) by Rob ThallonConsidered the standard reference in its field, this “Graphic Guide to Frame Construction” is the most well respected visual guide to building with wood. This is an invaluable reference for experienced designers and builders. Inside is a complete visual handbook for architects, builders, students, and anybody interested in wood-frame construction.

Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere by Zachery Klein

Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere by Zachery KleinNot a book about construction per sé, but, Klein’s ‘Cabin Porn’ is a chunky coffee table read which you can easily pick up and flick through when the mood grabs you. This book delves into the creation of wood cabins and guides you on how you might build your own. You get to experience your own mini-escape each time you flick through the pages.

The book is filled to the brim with photos. These photos are absolutely breathtaking and will no doubt fuel your wanderlust and make you want to take in the beautiful surroundings in your own cabin someday. The stories left me wanting to meet the amazing people who build these cabins and grab a beer with them.

The one downside is that this book is a little light on words, I wish there had been more tales from the author and the contributors about their journeys.


My thanks go to J3 Building Solutions, one of the best construction companies in Newcastle. I spoke to a few members of the team at J3 during my research on this blog, they gave me some great book suggestions to consider for my learning. If you’re looking for trustworthy commercial builders Newcastle, You can’t go wrong with J3 Building Solutions.

The Truth about Drug Companies- 4 great books about pharmaceuticals

There are a lot of publications and books out there about the pharmaceutical industry. Many of these can be quite negative in their outlook, particularly in relation to the American drug industry which has not had the best press in years gone by.

Below I have listed 4 of my favourite published exposés on the pharmaceuticals industry and why I think they are worth reading.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootHenrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is well known to scientists for her cells taken from cervical cancer. In her life, she was a poor Southern tobacco farm hand who worked to tend to the same land as her slave ancestors. However, her cells have created massive advances in the drug industry. However, they were taken without her knowledge and without adequate financial recognition.

HeLa cells were instrumental in creating the polio vaccine. Her cells have uncovered many secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects. They have also helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilisation, cloning, and gene mapping. Her cells have been bought and sold by the billions. All this and yet, Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

In 1951, Henrietta was diagnosed with cervical cancer. During the biopsy, cell samples were taken from Lacks and given to a researcher. Henrietta’s cancer spread wildly, and she was dead within a year. But her cells turned out to be an incredible discovery because they continued growing at a very fast rate.

Rebecca Skloot has written this fascinating book which outlines exactly why Henrietta’s cells were so important and why her contribution to medicine went unrecognised for decades.

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients by Ben Goldacre

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients by Ben GoldacreThis book starts by suggesting that medicine is broken. We like to imagine that it’s based on evidence and the results of fair tests, but in reality, those tests are often miraculously broken. We like to imagine that doctors are familiar with the research literature surrounding a drug, when sadly much of the research is hidden by drug companies.

Goldacre has a way of making complex science subjects accessible to the wider public. What he reveals is frankly quite frightening. He describes the way that the industry hides a large majority of the trial data, the way that legislation requiring data to be published is ignored by many, and in the EU it is still secret in some cases.

Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine by John Abramson

Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine by John AbramsonUsing examples such as Vioxx, cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, Celebrex, and anti-depressants — ‘Overdosed America’ describes how at the heart of the current crisis in American medicine lies the commercialisation of medical knowledge.

I knew that America’s medical system was slightly broken, but I didn’t think that it was all that bad. The information here is a little dated now, but I still see so much of it going on in health care, at least from my perspective (I am not an insider).

The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It by Marcia Angell

The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It by Marcia AngellCurrently, Americans spend close to $200 billion each year on prescription drugs. As Dr. Angell powerfully describes here in her book, claims that high drug prices are necessary to fund research and development are unfounded. The truth instead is that drug companies funnel the bulk of their resources into the marketing of products which actually have questionable benefits. Meanwhile, as profits continue to grow exponentially, the drug companies brazenly use their wealth and power to push their agenda through government.

This book is frankly, indispensable. Angell exposes the lies of the big pharmaceutical companies use to justify the overpriced drugs they sell.


Remember: it’s importance to trust the supplier of your medication before you take it. My thanks go to Pharmacy Seekers who helped me to write this post. They helped answer my questions about the authenticity of drug providers. Pharmacy Seekers offer pharmacy sales and finance for pharmacy businesses to ensure that they are the most authentic and sustainable businesses that they can be.

3 Great books about Medication

Medication plays a key role in all of our lives. I’ve been reading a lot of books recently about the medical industry and how drugs aren’t all that can help us to recover from illness.

Below are three of my favourite books on the subject:

Med Head: My Knock-down, Drag-out, Drugged-up Battle with My Brain by James Patterson

Med Head: My Knock-down, Drag-out, Drugged-up Battle with My Brain by James PattersonMed Head is a book which describes how it feels to have a body that won’t stop moving. This is a well woven tale about how it is to be different from everyone else, to be made fun of every day and how to break free and take control.

This book is about Cory, a young man who narrates his life and describes how it feels to grow up with tourette’s syndrome. The story examines the huge affect this has had on his life. Med Head does an incredible job of explaining what its like to deal with a mental disorder.

Having suffered from mental and physical illnesses in my life, I feel that I know a little bit about what it’s like not to have any control over your body or your mind. I really connected with this book.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul KalanithiAt the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he is a doctor treating the dying, and the next, he becomes a patient who struggles to live.

Breath Becomes Air tells the tale of Kalanithi’s transformation from student into a neurosurgeon working on the core of human identity – the brain.

Tragically, Paul Kalanithi died whilst writing this profoundly moving book, and yet, his writing lives on as a guide to us all on how to survive in adverse circumstances.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul GawandeAtul Gawande uses this book to approach the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can improve life whilst also being used to bring about its end.

Medicine has really triumphed in recent times, transforming how we give birth, treat injuries and infectious disease – taking each of these from harrowing life-changes to manageable conditions. However, hospitals continue to isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of the cure are passed considering. Doctors, committed to extending life, spend time carrying out shocking procedures, that all to often extend suffering than reduce it.

It took me a good few months to discover the courage to read this book. I know that this seems strange to be scared of a book, but the topic of mortality, considered so heavily here, is so depressing that I put aside reading it. But I am so glad that I did. I would wholeheartedly recommend Being Mortal to anybody interested in learning more about end-of-life decisions… and please don’t be scared.


Remember: it’s importance to trust the medication you take. My thanks go to Pharmacy Seekers who helped me to write this blog. Pharmacy Seekers offer pharmacy sales and finance for pharmacy businesses to ensure that they are the best and most sustainable businesses that they can be.

Humorous business copy and how to write it

Using humour is a great way to capture the attention of your audience. Just how much business copy do you think the average person reads each and every day?! It’s likely to be around the 3,000 mark according to Houk ads.

If your audience is seeing 2,999 other messages, it’s imperative that your message stands out from the rest. One way to do so is to make use of humour. Humour is incredibly under-utilised in advertising and when done well, can be your strongest tool to capture the attention of your audience.

Business-oriented copy can be exceptionally dry. Your writing can instead be funny, warm and friendly — it doesn’t have to be cold or starkly to-the-point.

I’ve collected some funny and warm advertising copy below which never fails to make me smile. Take note of the below examples and see if there’s something you could do similarly in your own writing.

Sleeky Web Design & Print ‘Hello’

 

Sleeky Web Design & Print

 

Leading Newcastle web design agency Sleeky Web Design & Print make use of a humorous reference to pop singer Lionel Richie on their website. The site features a charming graphic of the man himself alongside a pun which makes humour out of the brand’s name.

Sleeky Web Design & Print offer a variety of creative and marketing solutions to clients in the North East of England and throughout the UK.

 

NYC Taxi

 

NYC Taxi

 

Cheeky New York City taxi company make use of the gesture for hailing a cab (raising your arm) to make a statement about the easy availability of their service — it’s practically everywhere in the world’s busiest city.

 

Trello

 

Trello

 

Trello’s direct and no-nonsense copy cuts straight to the point: this is our product and this is how it will help you to work better.

Innocent

 

innocent

 

UK drinks manufacturer Innocent have long been known for their quirky and creative copy. Their communication is always honest and helpful.

 

innocent2

 

Eat24

 

eat24

 

Food delivery experts Eat24 have an incredibly warm and friendly communication strategy. By quirkily referring to humour in their copy, they are ensuring that they stand out from the rest.

eat24_2

Even their metadata is full of humour, certain to give your Google search some flavour.

 


 

 

So take heed writers young and old alike: you too can write fun, humorous and joyful copy for your project or business. I hope that you’ve learned from the examples laid out here. It’s not difficult to stand out, you just need to take a step backwards and approach your writing tasks from a more unique position.

12 Companies With Well Written Mission Statements

I’m something of a fanatic when it comes to well written mission statements. When done well, a mission statement explicitly states the exact reason for this company’s existence. It can be incredibly challenging to pare down one’s entire manifesto and belief system into one or two sentences. Once written, the mission statement will guide the actions of an organisation, directing its staff towards a unified goal and guiding decision-making.

Below are some of my favourite mission statements I have found in recent years:

American Express

Multinational financial services corporation.

  • To be the world’s most respected service brand

Chevron

Global energy and oil company.

“At the heart of The Chevron Way is our Vision to be the global energy company most admired for its people, partnership and performance.”

The Dow Chemical Company

Global chemical company whose specialty is in performance plastics.

“To constantly improve what is essential to human progress by mastering science and technology.”

Fedex Corporation

Global parcel delivery.

  • FedEx will produce superior financial returns for shareowners by providing high value-added supply chain, transportation, business and related information services through focused operating companies.
  • Customer requirements will be met in the highest quality manner appropriate to each market segment served.
  • FedEx will strive to develop mutually rewarding relationships with its employees, partners and suppliers.
  • Safety will be the first consideration in all operations. Corporate activities will be conducted to the highest ethical and professional standards

Honest Tea

Bottled iced tea.

  • Honest Tea seeks to create and promote great-tasting, organic beverages.
  • We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity we use to craft our products, with sustainability and great taste for all.

IKEA

Affordable Swedish design and furniture.

  • A better everyday life.

InvisionApp

Digital prototyping and mock-up service provider.

  • Question Assumptions.
  • Think Deeply.
  • Iterate as a Lifestyle.
  • Details, Details.
  • Design is Everywhere.
  • Integrity.

Life is Good

T-shirt company.

  • Spread the power of optimism.

Patagonia

Outdoor clothing and supplies.

  • Build the best product
  • Cause no unnecessary harm
  • Use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

Prestwick Care

The award-winning provider of care homes in the North East, Newcastle and Sunderland.

  • To provide the highest standards of service for our residents.
  • To provide our staff with the right environment, motivation and training through which to excel.
  • To continuously invest in our assets, and ensure we comfortably exceed industry standards.

Director of Care Bunty Malhotra said this about Prestwick Care:
“When we are at our most vulnerable in life, what is required of others is understanding, compassion and dignified care. We believe in providing all of these as core elements of the Prestwick Care service”.

Sweetgreen

Ethical restaurant chain.

  • Connect people.

Warby Parker

Eyeglasses and sunglasses manufacturer.

  • Offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.

3 Books which explore Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of ageing. It is a disease which attacks the brain which can cause problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. Alzheimer’s is the most common (but not the only form of) dementia.

If, like me, you have ever known someone to suffer from dementia, you will know that it is a progressive disease. Symptoms gradually worsen and there is not yet a known cure.

In the early stages, memory loss is not so bad. With late-stage Alzheimer’s, people can begin to lose the ability to converse and respond to the people around them.

If you know somebody with dementia or have an interest in learning more about the subject, I would recommend the three books listed below.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma HealeyElizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

Maud keeps finding notes in her pockets with the message ’‘Elizabeth is missing’ written on. She can’t remember writing it and has no recollection of where the message came from. Frustratingly, no one wants to help Maud find Elizabeth: the police, Elizabeth’s son, even Maud’s own daughter and granddaughter don’t seem interested. Author Emma Healey, has constructed a poignant tale about old age, how it feels to have memory troubles and to lose your independence. This short novel has an extraordinary twist and is well worth the read.

Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me by Sarah LeavittTangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt

Canadian author and cartoonist Sarah Leavitt’s mother Midge was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 55. ‘Tangles’ is a collage of Leavitt’s collection of notes and sketches made during the 6 years leading up to her mothers death. This is a graphic novel which, at times, can feel intimately personal to the author, but at others, an honest story. The novel covers the vast swathe of emotions: black humour, bursts of energy, anger, frustration and the emotions of family. It’s a harrowing read but well worth your time if you enjoy graphic novels.

Still Alice by Lisa GenovaStill Alice by Lisa Genova

Recently made into a film, Still Alice is a story about Alice Howland. Alice is a 50-year-old woman who suffers from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alice herself is a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned linguistics expert. The story is told in a third-person perspective and tells of Alice’s initial diagnosis and how she and her family adapt to the disease. As Alice’s disease worsens, it begins to change her relationship with her family and the world around her. This is a touching and incredibly sad story, but one that should be read by anyone wising to understand more about alzheimer’s and dementia.


My thanks to family owned care provider Prestwick Care who helped me write this. Prestwick Care run care homes across the North East and around the Newcastle area. I spoke to a wonderful nurse on the telephone who helped me research alzheimer’s and dementia in my research for this blog.