I am a strong, accomplished writer with a wealth of experience in both writing and managing the design and production of a wide variety of content and collateral – both in print and digital. Writing is actually the reason I got into the marketing communications business, because I was told it was one of the few professions in which you could make a decent living as a writer.
And while I have developed many more skills and expertise over the years, writing has remained my greatest strength as a communications professional. In fact, as a result of my strong reputation as a writer, I was asked (relatively early in my career) by the Public Relations Society of America to write an article on the importance of writing in public relations. I have even taught courses on writing as part of in-house professional development programs.
During my nearly 30 years in the profession, I have written practically every type of content and collateral imaginable. This includes annual reports, award entries, bios, brochures, bylined articles, case studies, feature articles, how-to articles, magazines, newsletters, Op-Eds, press materials, proposals, speeches, technical articles, and white papers.
Copywriting is a specific style of writing typically used in advertisements and many types of collateral, with the goal usually being to persuade the reader to take a particular action. It tends to be brief, and some of the conventional rules of grammar can often be relaxed for creative purposes.
Having started my career at a marketing communications agency, I have written a lot of copy over the years. This includes advertisements, catalogs, direct mail, email newsletters, presentations, sales materials, signage, social media posts, surveys, talking points, and even a few video scripts. In fact, I have done so much copywriting that I created a separate copywriting website to further showcase my expertise.
Range & Versatility
In the digital age, the line between traditional writing and copywriting can often become blurred, depending on the platform and purpose. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I have been so successful in writing for digital platforms, including blogs and website content, as I have such broad experience as a writer that I can change styles almost effortlessly.
In addition to learning how to vary my writing style, I developed the ability to write in different voices as well. This has been useful when writing bylined articles, Op-Eds, speeches, and even social media posts on behalf of others. And I have also learned how to change the tone, whether writing something casual and fun for an in-house newsletter or something more formal and focused for a technical article.
Speaking of technical articles, I have worked for a number of clients involved in technical businesses, from computer servers and blown-film extrusion equipment to thermoplastic elastomers and flue-gas desulfurization systems. As a result, I developed the ability to not only quickly achieve a level of proficiency with these technologies and industries, but I also learned how to distill complex issues and information into language that resonates with specific, targeted audiences – as well as with the general public.
Proofreading & Editing
To be a good writer, you first need to master the basic skills involved in writing. These include spelling, grammar, and diction. And for professional writing, you also need a good grasp of the AP Style. I liken it to learning how to play an instrument before you can learn how to make music.
When I entered the profession, I was far from proficient in any of these, despite minoring in English during college. Fortunately for me, one of the first supervisors I had in the agency world forced me to learn from my mistakes rather than simply correcting them. As a result, I ended up teaching myself the skills I needed, along with the healthy habit of looking things up whenever I am uncertain about which option is correct.
These skills have served me well. And even though the digital age has made it a lot easier to check and even correct spelling and grammar while writing, it is shocking how few people actually do so. I find it frustrating when I am given copy to review that hasn’t even been spellchecked. If it is something written by a member of my staff, I will force them to go back and fix their own mistakes, to learn from them as I did. But if it is something written by a client, I am comfortable reworking it in a way that fixes the problems without sacrificing their voice.
As a freelancer, I am always responsible for proofing and editing my own work. This is extremely difficult, because your brain tends to overlook even some of the more obvious errors when you are reviewing your own writing. That is why I like to, when I have the time, proof and edited things I have written a day or two afterwards, as I find I am better able to catch any mistakes I may have made. Of course, as a perfectionist, I could go on tinkering and revising things until the cows come home, which is probably my greatest weakness as a writer. Fortunately, though, all of my professional assignments have deadlines, which puts a hard limit on the tinkering.
Throughout my three decades as a professional writer, I have often written for my own pleasure as well. I have occasionally contributed articles to publications that interest me. In fact, my beer and bar reviews in the early 90s actually landed me a book deal, which I had to abandon when my agency offered me the opportunity to relocate to Southern California and start-up its first West Coast office.
In 2010, I spent nearly a month in South Africa for the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament. Friends and colleagues had encouraged me to blog about this experience, since it was my fifth World Cup adventure. And I enjoyed it so much, and had such overwhelmingly positive feedback, that I decided to build on that success and continued writing about soccer when I returned home to New York City.
The blog quickly evolved into what can best be described as an online soccer magazine, Total Footblog, for which I regularly researched, wrote, and published feature-length articles (1,500 words on average) about various aspects of the game not covered by the mainstream sports media. In fact, I published an average of 13 articles (20,000 words) per month, making me arguably one of the most prolific American soccer journalists at the time.
I enjoyed a two-and-a-half year run working as an online journalist before business demanded that I shut it down and return full-time to my freelance communications consultancy. These days, in addition to my freelance writing and copywriting, I also maintain a secret blog, which gives me a chance to write what I want, how I want, and when I want. And I have been known to occasionally post an article on Medium as well.