Copywriting for corporates was my cash cow for many years. I’d worked as a journalist — which was great work but didn’t pay much — and then one day thought, “Let’s make more money.”
I sent out a cheekily worded email to the head of every agency in the city I was then living in — Dubai — and they responded. Before I knew it I had so much work coming in I had to take on two part-timers to pretend to be me.
These power-ups gave me the ability to make $500 a day take-home when I started out in the noughties and I was usually done by lunchtime unless I had meetings.
During that time I worked on the otherworldy property, infrastructure and banking developments that made Dubai what it is today. It was fascinating, exciting and life-affirming working with everyone from the Sheikh’s office to the heads of world banks, billionaires, engineers, world famous architects, celebrities, you name it.
And over time I realized that no matter what I wrote — brand positions and guidelines, press releases, end of year reports, product launches, scripts, internal eyes-only documents, ad hoardings on the side of buildings, press ads, brochures, emails, chairman’s letters . . . you get the idea — I always came back to the same five steps to make every corporate document shine.
THE USUAL PROBLEMS
Corporate writing tends to be:
- Too wordy
- Written as if trying to impress a bank manager or a school teacher (Basically anyone who would tell you not to start a sentence with a preposition)
- Edited by committee
So, using the 80/20 rule (before Tim Ferriss made it popular), I found that no matter what sleep-deprived state I found myself in or whatever ridiculous unrealistic deadline arrived — I could make any document better with these simple strategies.