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Take Me to Zee Casbah, and Let Me Write Your Newsletter

Friday, April 23rd, 2010 by Alicia

If copywriters were actors, we’d be the sort who love rococo accents and false noses, like Laurence Olivier or Meryl Streep. We at the Content Bureau take pride in our ability to switch writerly guises and voices from one assignment to the next—heads-down white-paper financialese one week, eco-minded web copy for a sustainability initiative the next. In truth, we do specialize; the writer who’s gifted at bringing limpid clarity to brain-boggling corporate complexity may not be equally adept at snappy taglines and socko playbooks. But we all get to do a fair amount of prose shape-shifting, and that keeps the job fun.

When clients recognize and appreciate that phenomenon, it makes us happy. Linette Atterbury of PayPal Vertical Markets has worked with the Content Bureau a lot over the past three years, on projects ranging from case studies to newsletters to email blasts. PayPal has its own distinct voice that’s conducive to good copy—direct, clear, conversational, relaxed, but not jokey or smart-alecky. Within those fairly broad guidelines, we’ve shifted accents just a bit to talk to different segments of PayPal’s market. Linette said some kind words about our channeling abilities in a new case study, and we’re grateful. Shucks. Blimey. Mazel tov to us. And good on ya, Linette.

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Creative block? Try a worthwhile dilemma.

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 by Todd

One of the challenges of working as a designer is that creative muses don’t respect business hours. Sometimes a brilliant idea strikes at bedtime; inconvenient perhaps, but still usually pleasant. More troubling is when you’re on deadline and can’t find inspiration. Every creative has her or his own techniques for breaking the block. One of […]

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The Mystique of “The Trades”

Friday, April 9th, 2010 by Alicia

Every subculture needs its holy scriptures. Business executives feel more like business executives when they read The Harvard Business Review. Marketers replenish their chops with Brandweek, start-ups with Entrepreneur. And so on. From The Mining Journal (founded in 1835) to Fish Farming International, name a specialty, and there’s a specialty publication that confers at least wannabe-insider status on its readers.

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Writing We Love

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Field Note #1: The New Sales Funnel

Friday, April 2nd, 2010 by Client Valerie Ashe, Regional Industry Marketing Manager, Autodesk

Sometimes I’m alarmed by how much business terminology, particularly in sales and marketing, borrows from the brutal lexicon of warfare: words such as strategy, tactics, campaign, and force (as in sales force) each hearken back to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. The field refers to a battleground, where troops use tactics to attack the […]

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It’s All About the Relationship

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 by Stacy

What makes for a great client-vendor relationship? The same things we value in our friendships and marriages: trust, respect, commitment, open communication.

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The Business of Copywriting

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In Defense of Pie Charts in the Real World

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 by Masha

Absolutely! I agree with our earlier post, Ideas Without Words—or Pie Charts.  Information is beautiful in charts like Caffeine and Calories. I would use this or a similar treatment each and every time the client says: “Designer, go forth with this here unlimited budget and a whenever deadline, and just… CREATE!” Alas, the world of […]

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Snuffing Out Deadly Dull Buzzwords

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 by Chris

At the height of the dotcom era, a few high-tech journalists created “Buzz Saw,” an email filter that would bounce messages from PR and marketing people who larded their pitches with overused buzzwords. If you laid it on too thick with catchphrases like “bleeding-edge,” and “strategic paradigm,” not only did your email get bounced, but […]

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Beyond the Style Guide

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Ideas Without Words—or Pie Charts

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 by Alicia

Sometimes we copywriter people need to be put in our place. INFORMATION IS BEAUTIFUL does it.

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Lives by the Column Inch

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 by Alicia

Newspaper obits describe the fabulous lives of uncelebrated people.

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Surfing Words

Thursday, January 14th, 2010 by Lucy S.

The ocean captivates, its countenance fickle. Now darkness. Cold, frothy giants pound in unrelenting rhythm, giving no purchase to board or fin. Now light. A twinkling surface throwing back the glow of sun, a glassy caress of warm water—then a clean line easily discovered after a smooth drop in. Surfing that roiling, infinitely faceted sea […]

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