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Copy vs. Graphics: Bickering Spouses of Advertising?

copyvgraphics_newsIn this age of social media, viral videos and search engine optimization (SEO), the role of imagery and copy in marketing is like ever-present background noise. And yet from billboards to websites, the healthy marriage of copy and graphics is almost always a critical component in the successful execution of promotional efforts.

The relationship between copy and graphics is practically as close as conjoined twins. Think about it. How often to you do you see promotional copy without some kind of image? Or when was the last time you saw an ad that had no words?

As with any couple, there can be tension between words and picture—often thanks to the “in-laws.” People who bring copy into the world are fond of saying that “Copy drives creative.” Meanwhile the graphics artists point out that nobody actually reads Playboy for the articles. Wisdom comes from understanding that whatever is done must be for the sake of the concept.

How this conception takes place varies quite a bit. It can be a lovely process, or sort of messy (intimate collaboration vs. a brainstorming free-for-all). But once a marketing concept is born, skill and patience are needed to help it achieve its destiny of carrying an important message into the world. Good marketing agencies work this out for their clients. But what if you’re a smaller business with only ad hoc marketing assistance? Where do you begin?

  • Understand how the concept will carry the message. It’s easy to get carried away with a possible concept; they can be very cute and lot of fun. But if the connection between a creative concept and its intended message isn’t readily apparent, start over. Also, remember to keep your branding in mind—especially how the concept supports your overall value proposition.
  • First, focus on the concept and come up with a visual OR First, focus on the concept and come up with a headline. Sorry, but sometimes the graphics needs to lead, and sometimes the copy has to do the trick. If one person is doing this alone, it’s relatively easy because they can go with the best idea that pops up. If you have people splitting duties, you can have them collaborate; let them work independently and present dueling treatments; or make the executive decision to have one of them take the lead.
  • Creative elements must support and complement each other … completely. A lot of really great headlines have been killed by stock photography or limited graphics resources that don’t quite meet the needs. This is why images often end up being in control when all is said and done. (It’s usually easier to change a few words than come up with the perfect picture.) The key takeaway is that they have to work together!
  • Maintain consistency throughout the promotional piece. Typically, this is more of an issue for copywriters than graphics artists as there are often headlines, body copy, a call-to-action, etc. supporting just one concept. (Avoid the copywriting equivalents of mixed metaphors!) However, where multiple images are used (such as a brochure) they too should be in keeping with specific copy elements and honor the creative idea throughout the piece.
  • Let the people involved in the creative process take a final look before publishing (or ‘going live’). Just because people work together, they don’t necessarily work side-by-side. Sometimes an artist may find that the image that delighted her isn’t available for commercial usage. Or perhaps the writer (who convinced everyone he’d written the all-time greatest headline) wakes up in the middle of the night realizing it’s actually stupid. One creative person may frantically issue changes that the other knows nothing about … or maybe they never had a meeting of the minds to begin with. It’s critically important that they all have the opportunity to serve as creative quality checks before it’s too late.

While it will never be set in stone as to whether copy or imagery is more important to rearing a successful promotional concept, they each have their important specific roles. Imagery catches the attention of an audience, and copy justifies that interest. As long as they’re doing this, you know you have a creative union that works.

Other online articles you may want to peruse:

The 10 Commandments of Great Copywriting

25 Epic Design Tips for Non Designers

11 Best ways to Brainstorm Creative Ideas

Tampa Bay public relations

Social Media Superhero: Tips for Curating Social Content

social media curating content marketing Social media accounts for businesses are now the norm rather than the exception, so keeping up-to-date with your posts is something that must be done on a regular basis. We understand that this is time-consuming and is yet another item to add to your to-do list, but below are some tips for streamlining the process and keeping your content interesting and fresh.

  • Choose your accounts wisely: You don’t have to have ALL the social media accounts for your business (although you should own your name to fend off squatters.) Pick the ones that make the most sense. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are fairly standard (for different reasons) and should be on your list, but if your business is not image heavy, then Instagram and Pinterest may not be necessary. However, if you are a retailer, these may be your most important accounts. Consider what your business’ mission and goals are, then choose your social media accounts accordingly.
  • Know your audience: Who are they and what do they need? What do they like and how can you help them? These are questions you should ask yourself before you start posting on your social media accounts. Even after you’ve begun posting and feel like you have identified your target audience, use social media analytics to gain more insight into your audience’s habits and fine-tune what you are already doing to capture them.

Use time saving applications:

  • Create a keyword list (in much the same way you would for SEO), and use your chosen keywords in Google Alerts to capture content throughout the week so you don’t have to search every day for fresh articles to post.
  • Use HootsuiteSprout Social, Edgar or other handy tools – many of which have simplified free versions – to schedule posts so that you can get an entire week or two of social media finished in one sitting. Keep in mind that the style and format for each is different, so it’s best to use the tools to post to each platform individually.
  • Engage with your audience as often as possible: Respond to their comments and messages, like or retweet their news and photos, and let them know that you’re listening. This lets them know there is actually a person on the other end of the account, not just an automated robot.
  • Beware of politically charged or religious content: On a business social media account (and in some cases even your personal profile), starting politically charged conversations can frighten people away. Some people are eager to debate or give their opinion, but others just don’t want to be inundated with other people’s opinions. Stay neutral and keep the political material for personal encounters.

Social media doesn’t have to be difficult – in fact, it can be a fun way to get to know your customers better and improve your business. Many people hire marketing agencies to handle social media, if this is the route you choose, make sure the agency is willing to learn your business and tailor your posts to your personality – nothing is worse than a Facebook or Twitter that seems sterile and unrelated to the business. See more social media tips, check out some of our other articles about hashtags, Instagram posting, and writing client-centric blogs.

What Makes a Good News Story?

When telling a news story, choosing the audience wisely is as important as the writing itself. Not all audiences will want to read all news. This has always been true, through the many eras of news. However, with the current flood of information and availability of news anytime and anyplace, it is especially important now. Ask yourself these questions before you even pitch a story. Who are my readers? Who is going to care about this story?

Once you determine your audience, you can start to research publications that are relevant to that industry or vein of interest. Avoid sending your press release to every publication you can think of. For example, if your story is about an office remodel that caters to the work habits and needs of Millennials, you wouldn’t pitch the story to Cat Fancy or The New Yorker. It may take some time to find the appropriate publications, but the leads you discover will be far more qualified than sending your pitch to as many publications as you can without doing research.

Another facet of news is relevance to current trends. It is a difficult task to create a buzz about something – better to ride the tide of another trending topic or collection of stories. For example, in the above story about remodeling an office to appeal to Millennials, you may use references to research done by larger companies such as Apple or Google that state the importance workplace satisfaction plays in productivity. You could even relate the story to studies that have shown that inactivity leads to health problems – the newly remodeled office provides employees with areas that promote physical activity and thus wellbeing. This is where you get to be creative and perhaps learn a bit more about the story yourself. Doing some research into the topic can help you make relevant connections that will be very effective in relaying the importance of your story.

Even after you do your research and create connections to relevant, trending topics, your story may not be viable. In the current information atmosphere, people have access to so much news that it is increasingly difficult to capture their attention. The 24-hour news cycle has yielded to an even more rapid moment-to-moment news cycle, so trending topics can appear and become obsolete in just hours. Appealing to emotions helps, great quotes help, relevance to trends helps, but ultimately the often fickle audience of today decides what is going to be newsworthy. Reporters and news outlets are forced to keep up with their ever-changing tastes.

Despite the challenges you face with pitching your story to the media, don’t be discouraged and don’t take it personally. In the event that your story is chosen for publication, the resulting piece is extremely rewarding after the obstacles you’ve faced in today’s news environment.

Pinstripe Marketing offers public relations as one of our many services. Public relations is one aspect of a complete marketing strategy – we help create pitches that tell the story of your brand. Check out the below links for more advice on what makes a good news story.

What Makes a Story Newsworthy?

The 11 Things That Reporters Consider Newsworthy

Of Taglines and Slogans

Practically everyone knows the word, ‘slogan.’ You may have also heard the term, ‘tagline.’ Even if you aren’t intimately acquainted with these words, you probably realize they have something to do with marketing. You can be forgiven, though, if you don’t quite understand the difference between the two words, as it’s not uncommon even for seasoned marketing professionals to occasionally slip up and wrongly use ‘slogan’ and ‘tagline’ interchangeably.

Both taglines and slogans are short phrases, issued forth from some business entity, that are meant to be easily remembered. However, taglines (should) spring from a company’s brand and evoke an understanding of what the business is about from a holistic perspective. As such, taglines may remain the same for years—possibly decades—and are sometimes presented in conjunction with the company’s logo. Slogan, on the other hand, comes from the Scottish word for ‘battle cry’ and will pretty much change with the advent of any new advertising campaign or from one of the company’s product lines to another.

The situation does gets a little muddy because not all companies have an official tagline (or if they do, they seem to keep it to themselves). Typically, they will come up with a slogan that they use for many years and then go on to something else. AT&T used “Rethink Possible” from 2010 until 2014, then the company went to “Mobilizing Your Life.” Coca Cola has changed to tagline many, many times over the past century. So often in fact, that you probably don’t even know what it is—which is why you shouldn’t change it that often. (Raise your hand if you thought it was still, “The Real Thing.”)

As for slogans, companies may not use them at all … letting imagery or various other elements of a campaign carry the attendant message without putting it into specific words. Or they may enlist the established tagline to do the work of a slogan as well. Publix’s “Where Shopping is a Pleasure” is a good example of a very active tagline contributing to ongoing marketing efforts.

But there are many companies that have clearly delineated the two types of marketing phrases. Here are a few better known company taglines as well as some notable campaign slogans.

World famous taglines aren’t vital to branding, and carefully crafted slogans aren’t critical to marketing campaigns. But when there are deployed, they should be short, memorable and make a promise to the customer, whether it’s about the company as a whole (tagline) or about a specific product, feature … or limited good (slogan). In the meantime, you can feel superior and annoy colleagues and errant marketing professionals by correcting anyone who uses either term incorrectly.

Check out the resources below to help you create memorable taglines and slogans:

Tips on How to Write a Killer Slogan

How to Craft a Powerful Tagline

Cool Business Card Design

cool business card design header
Have you ever received a business card that felt more like a gift than an exchange of contact information? Business cards like this may seem like a distant goal, something to yearn for but perhaps never to achieve. We are here to tell you that this is not the case – with the right designer and a solid goal in mind, you too can have the business card that everyone envies and admires.

What is it About This Card?

Cards like this are special because they look and feel great, but they also represent the company or person in just the right way. Think of the cards that left the biggest impression on you. We certainly can. There was the artist who gave us a choice of a couple different cards that featured her artwork on the back – we now have them hanging on our bulletin board as tiny pieces of art; people see them and want to know about them – they are talking pieces. Someone saw the card once and immediately wanted to find out about prints. They visited her site and ordered three. She knew that having her art displayed in miniature form would lead to people wanting more.

There’s also the intelligence and security expert whose cards are thick, smooth and shades of royal blue. The thickness of the card brings to mind something solid and secure, assets we want our security professionals to possess. The smooth face screams confidence and intelligence. And blue is soothing, calming. If you have a security problem, you can be at ease knowing that he will do everything he can to solve that problem. All of these implications are contained in one beautiful business card.

How Do I Get One Like It?

Before you toss out your white card stock and Times New Roman font, think about what you want to say with your card. Cool business cards are not cool just because you chose great paper and used a funky font and graphics – they should speak volumes about you. If you just apply the cool parts without a goal, your card may end up seeming jumbled, busy, or worse – it may send the wrong message. If you are a  family law firm and your card is metal, this is confusing. Why is it metal? Just because metal is unique? Is this a law firm for rock bands? What’s the metal all about? You can see why that is the wrong approach. Depending on the type of law your firm practices, you want to convey the intellect, tenacity, and sophistication of your attorneys. Color, font, logo, paper, and orientation will be affected by the goals and mission of your company.

New business cards are a big deal, and this is perhaps the perfect time to revisit your logo, mission statement, and goals. Like many busy professionals, it may have been some time since you’ve looked at your business and marketing plans. Now that you are on the precipice of choosing a brand new design for your business cards, take the opportunity to look at your current marketing materials – this is a good time to reevaluate everything. It may be best to work with your marketing department or an outside marketing agency to see if a fresh look is in order. A marketing agency that specializes in helping businesses in your sector solve problems can help revamp your marketing plan and give advice on what areas you could improve to keep current. Once you have an overall strategy you can revisit design to fit that strategy.

Designing the Card for You

Once you determine what your card should say about your company, find a great designer or agency to conceptualize and execute your design. We understand that budget constraints affect this decision. Know this: a great designer will help define your business and seek the answer to your problem; a mediocre designer will use the tools that they have to put together the pieces that you give them in an acceptable way. Great design demands critical thinking, passion, and creativity. Mediocre design requires knowledge of the software used to piece together your design. Hire a great designer to achieve that cool business card. This designer will not only create the graphics for your card, they will suggest different papers, colors, textures, and other elements to complement your design and further convey your message. Don’t bother trying for a cool business card if you are going to skimp on the designer – that is half the battle.

For ideas or even just for fun, check out this list of super creative business cards.