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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 17 April 2018. In this issue:

What links the Facebook data scandal with Martin Luther?

We need to be liked and followed, the more we are, the more secure we feel. Facebook tapping into that is the reason we were prepared to give them our data, it felt like a fair exchange until abuses of that information came to light.

As a fascinating article on BBC Radio’s The Long View pointed out last week, this is just part of the human condition. Back in the early C16th the Catholic church sold indulgences to people who believed that they would help to speed their soul through purgatory to heaven. The more ‘likes’ you had (indulgences or influential people praying for your soul) the speedier your progress. And in this context, Martin Luther was the ‘whistle-blower’ who pointed out that salvation couldn’t be bought and that the church was unscrupulously benefiting from this.

And so, it seems, twas ever thus. Although dismissed in the Sunday papers as a ‘bonkers analogy’ it’s certainly an entertaining one, and not without foundation.

If this has piqued your interest, listen to The Long View on the BBC website (at 28 minutes this is perfect lunchtime listening. With apologies to subscribers beyond the UK if you’re unable to access it).

Although I admit it’s quite a stretch, an understanding of what motivates our audiences to engage with us is central to excellence in all marketing, and is certainly covered by both our Copywriting Workshop and Impressive Marketing Plans Workshop.


The knotty conundrum of punctuation in bullet points (and other stories)

Q: Why is it that this is regularly cited as a challenge by attendees on our copywriting courses?

A: Because bullet points weren’t around when the Victorians imposed grammatical rules on English, so we've improvised on ‘good practice’ and many of you have a sneaking feeling that there must be an ‘official’ rule out there.

Well, there isn’t – so you’re completely free to make up your own.

For the record (from the many conversations I’ve had in courses over the years), here’s the favoured style:

  • introduce bullets with a line of text, and a colon
  • lower case throughout, and NO comma (or semicolon) at the end of each bullet
  • but a full stop at the end of the last.

The rationale? The bullets replace the punctuation between the elements in the list, making commas unnecessary. And punctuation is there to make meaning explicit, which bullets do very nicely for themselves, so why add clutter? Bullets are a way of arranging a sentence, which is why a full stop is generally agreed to be good practice at the end.

Our Copywriting Workshop is the place to be for more like this.


GDPR, excellent guidance on ‘consent’ direct from the ICO

Our inboxes are currently flooded with emails about GDPR, some of them frankly scaremongering and even misleading. The ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) itself is quick to point out that they are NOT about to start handing out huge fines. Unhelpfully they also admit they’re still fine-tuning the details of what’s admissible and not under the legislation, which makes the ICO itself the best source of guidance.

Getting ‘consent’ right is at the heart of what we need to prioritise, and the ICO have a very useful GDPR Consent Guidance document available free to download. It’s a 39page PDF but it’s the first few pages that are especially useful – and reassuring.

And is double opt-in a requirement?

I’ve read reports (and shared them here) that have said so, and the answer is both yes and no. Double opt-in is where a new subscriber needs additionally to click on a link in an email sent on receipt of their submission. It’s good practice, it’s reassuring, and it’s relatively simple to add, so I believe we benefit from incorporating it. But it is not a requirement of the GDPR. However ... an updated PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation) becomes effective in 2019 and it is expected to be a requirement of that.

Our Email Marketing Workshop is the place to be for more like this.

Read the ICO Consent Guidance (PDF).


Tip of the week: Authors, videos, interviews

Everyone loves a video. And succeeding in getting an interview for your author is of course a coup. Except when your author is boring, dull, slow, arrogant, or just plain annoying.

The tip this week is to be realistic about how your authors will come across on screen (or on audio). And if the truthful answer is ‘not well’, try suggesting they write an article or blog post instead. Otherwise that lovely coverage could just backfire, and any journalists you’ve worked with won’t trust your judgement in future either.

Psst – our Practical Publicity Workshop covers this topic.




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