brexit

NO DEAL IS BETTER THAN A BAD DEAL

Put your hand up if you're sick to death of hearing the title of this blog post - *THROWS HAND INTO CEILING*

It's what we Brits have had to hear on loop in the run-up to the triggering of Article 50. With varying levels of inaccurate bollocks attached to it and a rotating door of grey, middle-class men saying it - the idea that we might walk away with 'no deal' in Brexit negotiations is being flirted with.

Now, this would be really, really bad. We'd fall back on WTO tariffs which would slap disastrous amounts of dosh and red-tape on our exports and just be generally shit for consumers and producers.

So when it comes to our nation's economy, no deal would probably be worse than a bad one.

But that got me thinking (dangerous).

When it comes to freelancing, no deal is often the best option.

There are so many warning signs when it comes to bad clients that I can usually tell after a couple of emails if someone's going to be difficult.

  • Being asked to do a free test article is one of them. Now, I don't mind offering if I think it's appropriate but it's a bit cheeky to ask. I'll happily share examples of my work, which I think give you a clear idea about my style. You wouldn't get in a taxi, ask to be driven somewhere and then MAYBE you'll pay for it if they get you there, so don't do it to writers.
  • People that clearly don't acknowledge the skill it takes to write well or the value it creates. If you think writing is easy and not worth paying good money for then we probs won't get on. I've worked hard to learn what it takes to write well, so demeaning that effort is offensive.
  • Not being prepared to pay a reasonable sum for writing is also a big warning sign. I need to eat, man. Research, writing and editing takes time, so respect the craft.
  • Expecting me to magically know all about your brand and have as much knowledge as you about it WITH NO INFORMATION PROVIDED. How on earth can I write good copy if you're not giving me what I need, brah? I know I said I'll write for you, but that doesn't mean I have to write your brief for you too. 

No deal, mate.

BRAND MATTERS

Because I like to bring politics into EVERYTHING, I want to give a little example of how brands matter and illustrate it by putting a big dollop of political chat on everything.

I'm one of the remoaning liberal elite, living in my impenetrable bubble and dealing in silly things like facts and evidence. So, Theresa May ain't my bae. But what she has done, in the face of the most challenging post-war period ever, is somehow position herself as a safe pair of hands.

EVEN though she's not doing a good job; she's actually doing a pretty poor one so far. She's lurching to the right and giving bizarre little Eurosceptic fanatics like John Redwood and Bill Cash their dream Brexit ticket and Farage even more reasons to have a pint in his hand and a big grin. All for the sake of party unity, instead of hmmm I don't know...THE ECONOMY?

Anyway there's something about Theresa May that communicates thoughtfulness, level-headedness and a sensible approach - when her Brexit/Trump actions are far from it. Her brand appears strong at the moment, so she can take the UK in ludicrous directions without much flack, because her brand is trusted by the public.

So she can also take Ed Miliband's (Milibae) 2015 manifesto policies, nab what she likes and present them as Tory ideas - without being branded a mad, bad leftie nutter. Her brand is allowing her to do this.

Now over on the other side, we've got old Jezza Corbyn. Now, the less said about him the better, but he completely epitomises the damage a bad brand can do.

First impressions are so important in politics and Corbyn has done little in his tenure to turn his brand around. Apart from the disastrously similar 'Corbyn re-brand' since January, where nothing appears to have changed at all.

Staunch Labour voters can't stomach him, let alone floating voters. His brand is bad - his communications team are abysmal and Labour are tanking in the polls. Labour is teetering on the edge of something awful and with Corbyn at the steering wheel, the future doesn't look pretty.

People made up their mind about Corbyn early on and since that there's been a catalogue of errors and gaffes to harden their views. When Corbyn suggests similar policies to Miliband's 2015 effort, his brand makes him look like a dogged socialist, stuck in the 1980s.

Labour are being held back by brand Corbyn - time for a complete re-invention.

Basically, your brand matters and you're held back if it's not effective. Your stories won't resonate with people and your messages are lost when your brand is weak.

EMOTIVE COPY

2016 was shit. If you disagree with that statement then you probably won't like me/want to work with me.

The topsy-turvy political climate looked like it was some sort of big in-joke that we didn't know we were part of and didn't want to be. There weren't many clear truths to grasp at, as everything seemed so utterly unpredictable.

A few clear themes jumped out at me though. After reading Tim Shipman's excellent book on Brexit called 'All Out War' (it's great; it's like Gossip Girl meets Newsnight) - one of the main takeaways was the idea that the Stronger In campaign never manage to counteract the emotive statements that the Leave campaign were churning out. Ask anyone what the standout phrase was from the referendum was and chances are they'd say 'Take back control'.

Okay, so now it's more like 'Take back contrololololol' - but the point is that Stronger In just couldn't compete with that. The case for remain was based on facts, evidence and long-form content. They were running a different type of campaign that relied on people wanting to take the time to investigate their carefully crafted messages and data.

Large amounts of the UK weren't down for that. And that's not something that's exclusive to the referendum. We see it with sensationalist headlines that almost rely and exist purely in this reality that relies on people not delving any further and just taking one big, bright, black or white statement away with them.

Move across the pond (oh, do we really have to?!) and you can see the same in the recent election of You Know Who. The banner of 'Make America Great Again' hid a multitude of sins...and that doesn't even scrape the surface.

What I'm trying to say is if we can take anything positive from this clusterfuck is that emotive language and messaging is important and on-trend. Progressive political parties must up their game and counter intellectually baseless, empty phrases that trigger something emotional with their own - but what they'll have is a phrase that makes people feel something AND is also based in empirical evidence.

This doesn't just have to be in the form of a slogan. Recent studies have shown that people respond more positively to messages about immigration when they see qualitative sources like visuals and storytelling, instead of statistics. When you present ideas as abstract and wrapped in statistics, it maintains a distance and people can't access the multi-faceted nature of an argument. When you tell a story, people start to see an issue in a different way.

So, what's this got to do with copywriting and copy? Well, writing copy that makes people feel something and creating a brand story that connects with people is important. I've just decided to say it in a long-winded way, while I can bash Leave and You Know Who.

I'll write some emotive stuff for you; rootswriting@gmail.com