Six Essential Copywriting Tips

Good copy doesn’t just happen, it takes time, effort and skill to write a great piece of text.

I have so much advice to share with you, but for this post I thought I would keep it short and snappy, giving you the bare essentials to get you started.

Here are my six top tips:

  1. Use plenty of paragraph breaks – No one wants to sift through a large block of text, so embrace white space.
  2. Select the right font – Choosing the right font is important, selecting the wrong one can turn off any potential readers immediately. For example; I cannot bear reading anything in comic sans, I think it looks amateur and unprofessional.
  3. Use everyday language – This will ensure that you engage with as wide an audience as possible. Don’t try to be clever and if you can’t think of an appropriate word, keep thinking or come back to it, never use a thesaurus!
  4. Be emotional – By adding emotion you will make your writing more personal, giving your audience an insight into you.
  5. Become ‘The Master’ in punctuation! – Good copy has good rhythm, make your words flow with the expert use of punctuation, but beware of over using commas and explanation marks.
  6. Use Headings and Sub-headings – These will focus your readers attention and break up the copy (remember point one). It will also point out sections of interest, as we all tend to skim read. In addition headings and subheadings will really help with your websites SEO, so make the most of them.

Keep these tips in mind when you write, great copywriting is within your reach. Following these tips will improve your copy and ultimately make it easier for your readers to understand and respond to your campaigns.

 

A Brief History of Subtitles

Most TV programs and films, now have the option for Subtitles, in fact it is now very rare not to have the option. But how have they become mainstream?

This blog post explores exactly what Subtitles are and how they came about.

What are Subtitles?

Subtitles are the overlay of text explaining the narrative of film or to that is being shown on the screen.

When were they first used?

According to Wikipedia they were first seen in 1903 as epic, descriptive titles in Edwin S. Porter’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (The technique may have been invented by cartoonist and filmmaker J. Stuart Blackton.)

These were in fact Intertitles, which was descriptive text put in between scenes of silent films, to explain to the audience what is happening.

In 1927 the first sound film was produced, the audience could hear the actors, so the intertitles inserted between scenes disappeared. However many film producers found that making several language versions, or have the film post-synchronized (dubbed) in another language expensive, so still wanted to be able to overlay text onto the film. This became what we now call subtitles, since this technique is comparatively cheap.

On August 14, 1938, the BBC broadcast Arthur Robison’s Der Student von Prag in a subtitled version.

How were they created?

In 1930 a Norwegian inventor called Leif Eriksen, took out a patent for a method of stamping titles directly on to the images on the film strip, first moistening the emulsion layer to soften it.

Later, in 1935, a Hungarian inventor, O. Turchányi, registered a patent for a method whereby the plates were heated to a sufficiently high temperature to melt away the emulsion on the film without the need for a softening bath.

Both of these techniques produced erratic results, sometimes you were unable to see the letters.

In 1932 two separate inventors R. Hruska, in Budapest, and Oscar I. Ertnæs in Oslo took out patents on chemical processes.

It wasn’t until 1988 that a laser process was developed by Denis Auboyer in Paris and by Titra-Film in Paris and Brussels.

In the 1970s two systems were developed using a word processor. The first was based on teletext, the second used a computer-controlled character generator.

Why do we use Subtitles?

Subtitles are primarily used with the deaf and hard of hearing in mind, although many hearing film and television viewers choose to use them.

As well as allowing foreign films or TV programs to be shown in the native language.

 

What is the best way to deal with the media?

Dealing with the media can be a very daunting task. Say the right thing and your PR campaign will be hailed a massive success; say the wrong thing, like Gerald Ratner[1] and you can watch your stocks and shares plummet, your customers run to the hills and have a major PR and business disaster on your hands.

But exactly what can you do to ensure that you get the best press coverage and make you and your brand look outstanding.

Here is our list of dos and don’ts will assist when dealing with the media

Do:

  1. Have a well-organised media/press plan – To do this create an outline for whatever coverage you are planning, whether it’s a press conference, a product launch, or a corporate event.
  2. Aim, Shoot, Fire – It is important to know what your aim is. Are you looking for a feature story on a programme, an opinion or thought leadership piece or even a guest slot on a show.
  3. Have a designated media person within your organisation – This person is your go to girl or boy. They will be responsible for all media communications, they will work out who you need to connect with in the various media outlets and will make it easier for the media and press to connect with your organisation if there is just one point of call.
  4. Clear and concise messaging – It may sound clichéd, but it is important that every area of your business is singing from the same hymn sheet. The perfect way to communicate this to your wider organisation is to create an internal memo for employees to read. Make it as simple, clear and easy to understand as possible.
  5. Remain united – If you are having to deal with something unpleasant then it is always best to ensure that there is united front. Contrasting opinions can confuse and damage a company brand even more as your customers, potential customers and employees will not know who to believe.

Don’t

  1. Talk, unless you are comfortable – If you don’t know how to respond to a media question and you are not the main media contact then it is always better to politely decline their question and point them in the direction of your organisations media contact.
  2. Be surprised by misquotes – There are no guarantees in dealing with the media that what you say will be misinterpreted, so you may not get the results you were looking for.

Summary:

In order to move your business forward you will from time to time need to embrace the media and it can be a love/hate relationship sometimes, but ultimately you need to ensure a good working relationship with them in order to improve your brand exposure and trustworthiness.

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Ratner

What questions should you ask before hiring a virtual assistant?

Outsourcing the right virtual assistant or secretary is extremely important to the success of your company, it allows you to concentrate on the core aspect of your business. But with so many companies out there offering this service, what should you look for when selecting the right company for you.

Here is our checklist for getting it right:

  1. Confidentiality – Do they have measures in place to ensure all of your and your customers information is confidential. A non-disclosure agreement would be ideal, will the company and the virtual assistant be willing to sign one.
  2. Knowledge – Do they have knowledge and expertise in your industry?
  3. Multi-lingual – If your business is international, do you require multi-lingual assistants? Working with someone who speaks in the native language of your customers can be extremely helpful.
  4. Tasks – Have a list of tasks that you want your virtual assistant to work on. Remember they will be freeing up your time to allow you to be more productive.
  5. Costs – Be mindful of how much it would cost you to employ someone to do this role, how much would you be willing to pay someone who is outsourced?
  6. Time – What hours would you like them to be available to you?
  7. SLA – Always get a copy of their service agreement, before signing anything, that way you know what to expect from their service.
  8. Sickness/Holiday – What support will they offer you if your virtual assistant is sick or on holiday.
  9. Clear Payment Terms – Knowing how much you will be paying and when payment is due will help you manage your accounts.
  10. Communication – How do you want to communicate with your virtual assistant; phone, Skype, email, text?

Here at Fingertips we can allocate you with a secretary who can take your telephone calls, manage your diary, arrange meetings, co-ordinate events, send emails on your behalf and also transcribe your audio.

To find out more about our services email info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

Top Five Questions to Ask a Transcription Service

If you are new to the transcription industry and have never used a transcription service before, but find that you have the need to, here are our top questions you should ask before choosing a transcription provider

  1. Who will be transcribing of your work? – Some transcription companies use software, others use multiple transcriptionists with different skill sets. If you are looking for someone who is knowledgeable in your field then ask for it, after all who is better positioned to transcribe your work than someone who knows it. Be wary of transcription services that use transcription software as it can lead to inconsistencies and poor quality.
  2. How much do they charge? Are there any hidden fees? – As with most things, it is important to read the small print. If it appears to be cheap or too good to be true, then it probably is. Think, does the rate they quote include everything you need, or will there be additional charges? Some service providers charge extra for; timestamps, fast delivery, extra time to transcribe because of poor audio. Make sure you know exactly how you’ll be charged and for what.
  3. Confidentiality and Privacy – What’s their privacy policy when dealing with your documents? Are they willing to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).This is especially important if your audio contains personal/sensitive or confidential information. Legally you need to ensure that the appropriate measures are in place to ensure it stays safe, secure, private and confidential. Work with a service provider that is registered under the Data Protection Act.
  4. How soon is now? – What is their turnaround time? If your transcription requirement is urgent it is likely to cost more than the advertised rate.
  5. Accuracy – This is an extremely important factor, as you want your work to be highly accurate and proofed. What is their accuracy rate? Is proof reading included as standard? If you are looking for a specific type of transcription such as medical or legal, then is the transcriptionist experienced in this area, as if not this can greatly affect the accuracy of your transcription.

As with any service, it is recommended that you get a few quotes from different service providers, where possible ask for a testimonial or case study from someone who has used their service and is in the same industry as you. This will give you a good understanding of their strengths and indeed weaknesses.

Here at Fingertips Typing Services we offer a wide range of transcription services and have transcriptionists experienced in industries such as: Legal, Medical, Academic and Insurance. If you would like a quote please email info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

The Truth About Virtual PA Services

A Virtual PA service is a great way for your business to save money and increase productivity, however, there are a lot of myths out there about virtual PA services. This article tells you the truth about  what to expect and debunks the myths.

  1. Virtual PAs are fully trained and experienced

The myth out there is that all Virtual PA services are run from call centres and while for it can be true of some low-quality virtual PAs, if you do your checks thoroughly enough you will find that most services are extremely professional, with highly trained and skilled PAs. Fingertips Typing Services offers support from an expert team.

  1. What about our brand and culture?

The right Virtual PA provider should be able to think, act and behave like an employee,. At Fingertips Typing Services we act as an extension to your brand, our team will fit seamlessly into your business.

  1. Supported 24/7, Even with sickness and holidays.

Unlike in-house PAs, a virtual one will ensure that there is cover should there be sickness or holiday. At Fingertips Typing Services our team of PAs work around the clock ensuring that there is always someone there when you need us.

  1. Multi-skilled PAs

A high-quality service provider should be able to give you access to more than one PA’s skill set.  So if you need something out of the ordinary, for example you may need to translate a report or email to an overseas customer then you can pull on the resources of a multilingual PA. At Fingertips Typing Services we have a wide team of professionals from different backgrounds, skill sets and many are multilingual giving you the support you need.

  1. Reduce your costs

A virtual PA can offer you substantial cost savings: no holiday or sickness pay, no desk space, no PAYE to name but a few. Additionally, they are flexible so you only need to use them when you have a requirement for it, rather than paying a full-time salary.

If you are looking for a virtual PA or would like to know more about the services we offer please email info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

 

 

How to maintain a customer database?

Your customer database is extremely important after all your customers are the lifeblood of your business.

Keeping a customer database is a really helpful tool allowing you to; identify customer trends, create customer loyalty and increase their customer communication.

Failing to keep your information up to date, you could mean that you are throwing money down the drain by attempting to reach people whose details have changed.

Here are our top tips on how to create and maintain your database in order to get the most out of it.

  • Mandatory fields – Ensure that the most important information are set as mandatory: like name, email address, phone numbers, and address. This will ensure that you have complete information
  • Updating your Database – Under the Data Protection Act, you are legally responsible for ensuring that any data you store is accurate and up to date To keep your data up to date, regularly ask customers if their data has changed from that which you already have, the cleaner the data the more accurate it will be
  • Backup Your Information – Any computerised database needs to be backed up daily or twice weekly. Keep these backups in a safe place so that if your computer crashes the information can be easily reloaded.
  • Ensure your marketing campaigns are linked to your database – This is extremely important as any emails that bounce can be linked back to your customers data and help you cleanse it. It can also provide you with insight into what your customers are responding to, which email campaigns have worked and what they are interested in. All extremely useful information to help you maintain and good relationship with them
  • Avoid duplicate contacts– Email addresses are unique so one way to avoid entering duplicate contacts is by comparing the email addresses. If there is more than one entry for a particular contact there is the possibility that neither file contains complete info, yet contains info the other file may not.  It is good practice to always merge the duplicate files, rather than deleting one and not the other.  This will allow you to compare the information in both files and fill in the gaps, rather than potentially losing important information

Summary:

Now we have given you the basics to keeping your data updated and consistent. Maintaining a good quality database with accurate customer information in takes time, so it is worthwhile putting a great deal of time and effort into it as it will pay dividends in the end. If you follow our tips you will most definitely avoid running into problems, remember a little time and attention can go a long way!

If you would like support on maintaining your database then please speak to us here at Fingertips Typing Services on 0845 300 5245 or email us at info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

What skills should a focus group moderator have?

The skills of a focus group moderator are extremely important to getting valuable, unbiased data from your existing and potential customers.

There is much more to moderating a focus group than simply asking questions here are the skills that we feel an effective moderator should possess, in order to get the most out of your research.

  1. Effective Listening Skills – They must be able to asserting themselves, but also know the importance of letting the group express their opinions and feelings. Their role is to guide the group through the questions.
  2. Flexibility – The nature of a focus group means that members will often deviate from the main question or topic, often providing further insight. It is therefore important for the moderator to have a flexible attitude.
  3. Include a Variety of Exercises –Maintaining interest and enthusiastic engagement among the participants is key to a successful focus group. You could use: role-playing, word association and ratings.
  4. Pause and Probe – The group moderator will be skilled in asking clear questions and pausing to give the group members opportunity to open up.
  5. Have Knowledge of the Topic– basic information on the subject helps in probing areas for more in-depth discussion; demonstrate a degree of naïveté.
  6. Be Enthusiastic and Attentive– have a high energy level; pay attention to participants- recognise group dynamics.
  7. Understands Group Dynamics – The moderator needs to understand how groups work, is relatable and know how to help groups of people to fully interact, they can get the group to  feel like they are educating them.
  8. A little more conversation – A good group moderator will create conversation, adapting the flow of the conversation depending on where it takes them.  A moderator’s job is to encourage discussion.

The role of a focus group moderator can be a challenge, after all you are dealing with many different characters, but it is also a rewarding one as you are contributing to the development of a business or product.

For more information on the focus group services we offer here at Fingertips Typing email: info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

Why Transcription services are essential for todays’ business

We speak, on average between 150 to 170 words per minute! And if my maths is correct that is 10,000 words per hour that is a whole lot of words!

We also speak 4 times faster than we type, and 7 times faster than we write, making a transcriptionists job a challenging one.  Our professional transcriptionists can type between 80 to 100 words per minute (wpm). So a 1-hour recorded interview takes around 4 to 6 hours to fully transcribe.

Here is our view on why Transcription services are essential for todays’ business.

  • Drive SEO and Website traffic – Audio and video content, once transcribed, can help improve your website traffic
  • Increase your audience reach – Recordings of corporate videos or meetings can be easily published once transcribed and distributed to your customers, your industry peers and media
  • Making it user friendly for those hard of hearing – Captioning film or video content will ensure you do not exclude people who are hard of hearing, or where English is not their first language
  • Create more content – Repurposing old online video and audio content as downloadable PDFs or e-books will provide extra content for your website and boost website strategy
  • Alternative to note taking – Transcription services are a great alternative to taking notes throughout a discussion
  • Capture everything – This is one of the biggest benefits of transcription, literally nothing is missed out. Every sentence, word, mumble or cough is recorded. The transcriber will ensure that everything is entirely accurate.

Summary

Transcription is a great tool for any business, it allows you to focus on your core business and reaching your goals and objectives instead of doing everything by yourself.

Tips on recording an academic lecture

Recording lectures is an easy and convenient way to make learning easier, with large class sizes and not to mention to short attention span of students, recording lectures has become popular in all major universities in the UK.

Here are our tips to getting a crystal clear lecture recording:

  1. Let the class know you are recording – This will ensure that you have the class engaged.
  2. Who are you? – State your name and the lecture clearly at the beginning of the recsording, this will make it easier for the transcriber.
  3. Invest in a decent digital voice recorder – There are several good recorders on the market without costing a fortune.
  4. Do a trial run– Check the sound quality, you may need to use a small microphone as some recorders may not pick up sound after a certain distance.
  5. Use a recording device that has a background cancellation feature -This will limit interference and make it easier to transcribe.
  6. Location, location, location – Place your recording device near the lecturer to ensure good audio quality.
  7. Repeat questions – Even thought you may have great audio, it can still sometimes be difficult to pick out questions, so repeat the questions so that the transcriber can pick up on that and the answers.
  8. Switch off other devices nearby – As these can interfere with the recording.
  9. Speak loudly and clearly – This will help your recording device pick up what your saying and repeat any answers from the students.
  10. Don’t forget to save – It sounds really simple, but you would be amazed how many people forget this!

Fingertips Typing Services offers a comprehensive Academic Transcription Service, for more information on how we can help you email: info@fingertipstyping.co.uk