Monthly Archives: July 2007

Can journalists be web copywriters?

This topic has come up now and again throughout my career, but after reading a rewritten press release on Net Imperative, I just felt I had to share this with a wider audience.

The first time this issue came up was when I met a fairly high profile client for the first time. During a discussion about content, she revealed that she didn’t use copywriters because most were ‘out-of-work journalists.’

As well as the slightly cliched view of a journalist, the implication that journalists aren’t necessarily good copywriters was worrying.

I eventually put the client’s odd comment down to experience. So I was surprised to see this attitude rear it’s ugly head on a Net Imperative report about Spannerworks.

Search marketing agency Spannerworks has, according to Net Imperative, recruited two journalists to develop original timely content that is relevant to ‘the discussion’ – the idea being that the content can be used across social networks, debate sites and so on and to improve a client’s rankings.


But what really surprised me was a comment by Antony Mayfield, Head of Content & Media at Spannerworks:

“To make brand content useful we need journalists as well as copywriters, as a journalist’s instinct is to be on the side of the reader rather than the side of the brand. If brands are going to compete for attention in their online networks, they need to become part of those networks by adding to the conversation in a useful and non-commercial way. In short, to win attention brands need to be useful, not just look useful.”

What’s most surprising is the assumption that a copwriter couldn’t be tasked with distancing himself / herself from the commercial hard sell. As a journalist AND copywriter of over 10 years, I’d be amazed if I couldn’t find someone who couldn’t manage this task. A copywriter’s remit is to write to a brief for a target audience. If that brief suggests adopting a journalist-like ‘non commercial’ approach to content, then so be it.

Okay I admit I’ve met plenty of journalists who can’t get their head around writing to a copywriting brief and vice versa. But surely anyone worth their salt can at least appreciate the process and approach required?

If you can turn your hand to both, it appears that you really are a rare beast.

Read the Net Imperative ‘story’ newsletter – do they read contentcontent?

Has someone at towers read my post on how to improve their weekly newsletter?

As per my last post, I waffled on for an age on how text could be broken up, bulleted, other alliterative b’s.

Have they taken note of my comments on headings too? The latest newsletter breaks up text with some bold headings…but little else.


Darth Vader mash-up – Star Wars art project

Not entirely content related, but take a look at this Flickr profile – celebrating a Star Wars anniversary.
On that note, when is the rumoured ultimate Star Wars DVD set coming out? The one with all six episodes?
Thought the guys at Fox would get that set in before HD-DVD or Blu-Ray becomes standard.