Christmas has finally arrived, and here at Write My Site, we’ve been celebrating with festive meals, Christmas cookies and chocolate Penguins aplenty (we know, we know, how Google appropriate). However, diligent as we are with our minds always on the job, we pulled our crackers, groaned at the abysmal jokes, and instantly launched into a discussion about how deceptively tricky such short copy must be for the writers who come up with the jokes.
David Byk, the managing director of Small Mill Paper Company, which makes 25m Christmas crackers as a year, says that cracker jokes don’t necessarily have to raise an actual laugh – but they do have to provoke a reaction. “We’re not looking for the Jimmy Carr of the Christmas cracker world … the key thing is that it has to appeal to all generations.” To David, a groan is just as satisfactory as a laugh, as evidenced by his personal favourite: ‘What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? Tinselitis.’
It seems that cracker jokes and cracking short copy are actually not that dissimilar. Nothing fills a writer with a sense of foreboding quite like being given a very small word limit for an important piece of copy: big briefs may seem overwhelming initially, but they often have more leeway for explanation and elaboration (although waffle is never OK, even if you’ve got 10,000 words to make your point!)
Here at Write My Site’s editorial division, none of us is particularly comically blessed, and with our comedy writers already off in search of their Christmas turkeys we’ll spare you our feeble attempts at our own cringe worthy jokes. Instead, we’ll stick to what we know best and impart our three top tips to help you write any kind of short copy, humorous or otherwise:
1. List your key messages
Short form copy has to be clear, concise and straight to the point – there’s no room for embellishment. Making a simple and very succinct list of the key messages that you want to convey may help you to sharpen your sentences and get to the point in a more efficient manner.
2. Consider the end result
What do you want the reader to do once they’ve finished reading? Laugh? Buy something? Call a phone number? Remember and repeat what you’ve said? If you can identify what you want the outcome to be before you start writing, you’ll have a much better chance of achieving it.
3. Make every word of short copy count
You may feel you need more words to put your message across, but this is almost certainly not the case. Advertising straplines are a good example of short copy with impact: L’Oreal needed only four words, ‘Because you’re worth it’, to create the strapline that summaries their entire brand. Take a break, come back, and self-edit. Cut out any non-essential adjectives and modifiers. Write with confidence and clarity, and you’ll be on your way to short copy success.
It’s now time for us to say farewell and Merry Christmas from everyone at Write My Site. We’ve loved sharing our blog pieces with you this year, and we’ll see you again in January!