How to ensure your copy is communicating effectively with your audiences
Posted on Tue 22nd Sep, 2020 in: Copywriting by Katie Wadsworth
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to communications. Whether you’re looking at PR, marketing, advertising or copywriting, what one company needs will always be different to another, even if they’re in the same sector. That’s because we all have different motivations and goals.
Part of the skill of being a comms professional is getting to the heart of these needs, identifying the key audiences who need to be engaged and developing a strategy to achieve these targets as efficiently as possible.
This principle also applies to copywriting. Often an overlooked aspect of comms, copywriting is more than bringing someone else in to write your annual report or a catchy ad slogan. It should be thoughtfully considered at every stage of your comms strategy. Why? Because the content on your website, social media channel or thought leadership piece could be the difference between instantly engaging your audience, or someone scrolling straight past.
Copywriting goes beyond just making sure things are grammatically correct. Good copy can persuade, entice and bring your brand values to life. It’s also one of the first ways you get customers, stakeholders and staff to buy into your company’s vision, mission or values.
So how do you make sure that your copy is effectively communicating with your audiences?
Here’s three key questions to ask yourself whenever you’re thinking about creating new content.
Who are you talking to?
Anyone who has worked with Aberfield will know we’re all about the audience. First and foremost you need to know who you’re communicating with. Is it a Gen Z consumer or your investors? Also, think about why you’re speaking to them?
Often companies try to produce communications which are a ‘catch all’, but what your stakeholders want to hear needs to be different if you’re encouraging someone to buy your product or invest in your company.
We recently worked with Leeds Beckett University on a magazine for parents and a student booklet. Both pieces needed to communicate the same key messages around Leeds Beckett’s academic offering and reassure the audiences that now was a good time to go to university, but the tone and format was very different.
Parents were predominantly looking for reassurance, so for this audience we produced long-form pieces of copy, with lots of interviews from other parents discussing their concerns and sharing tips to create a reassuring peer-to-peer feel for the magazine.
For students, the copy was much shorter and punchier. Easier to digest, it created a sense of fun, energy and excitement around their new independent journey and focussed on all the opportunities and new experiences university has to offer.
Where is the content going?
Another factor which should influence any good copywriting is the format and platform for the piece. The style and tone of your website copy should always be different to what’s in a thought leadership piece.
Part of this is because your audience in each space will naturally be different but also because thought leadership pieces, for example, need to balance your key messages with the editorial requirements, whereas your website copy gives you the chance to be promotional and express more of your vision and values.
For Helmsley Group, a syndicated property investment company, the content we produce for their quarterly newsletter is naturally different to what we write in an investor update on financial performance because the audiences need different things from the content.
While some platforms naturally segment your audiences, there are also instances where you need to speak to multiple groups in the same space.
One example of this is our work on the York and North Yorkshire LEP’s Local Industrial Strategy. As part of this campaign we produced a series of thought leadership pieces which were focussed on different areas of the LEP’s strategy. Each one not only had to communicate with sector professionals in specific areas (skills, inclusive growth, construction etc.) but they also needed to include key messages from the LEP which would generate buy-in from local businesses and senior leaders across the region. In addition, the pieces also needed to be accessible to the general public to ensure they participated in the public consultation around the growth plan.
What do you want to say?
Balancing the competing demands of different audiences can be a challenge, but a key part of doing it successfully is having a clear voice.
This is true for all aspects of communications as you need to know what you stand for and what key messages you want to get across to your audiences. Ensuring you’re consistent in your messaging will help people build a connection with your company because they know what you stand for.
Having an identifiable voice is important because it helps build up your brand image. Companies like Yorkshire Tea and Innocent Smoothies are great examples of this as they have clear voices on their social media channels which follows onto their website and advertising campaigns. Their voices are instantly identifiable and authentically them, so wherever consumers interact with their content they know what to expect.
A more corporate example is NG Bailey. The company has three core values of passion, integrity and excellence which run throughout everything it does. These values play an important part in shaping our PR and copywriting activity because we know that everything we produce needs to uphold and demonstrate these values, whether it’s their annual report or a project case study, digital magazine, press release or video script.
No matter what the format or audience, the secret to good copywriting ultimately comes down to having a clear idea of what you want to say and an authentic voice.
If you’d like support any copywriting or PR support, get in touch.