Wordsmith Miranda Blake recently looked at the power of communication in a global crisis. Here, she builds on the conversation about the written word by exploring the difference between comms and copywriting.
Nowadays, you’d be forgiven for thinking that communications and copywriting are one and the same. Yet they used to be in two very different camps: copywriting was ‘writing to sell’, and comms (more commonly associated with public relations) was ‘writing to inform’.
As time has gone on, they’ve become more and more intertwined. So, what balance between the two should your brand strike? Let me settle the difference between them – and their appropriate uses – once and for all.
Conventional forms of copywriting had the sole aim of ‘sell, sell, sell’. Let’s take a look at a historic example from Orange-Crush back in the 1920s: “Like oranges? Drink Orange-Crush”. It’s clear the objective was to get you to buy the drink.
And this was fine… back then. But things have changed. Advertising and marketing are much more competitive spaces now. Consumers are fatigued by the sea of ads they face every minute of every day, meaning a blanket sales message will get lost in the noise.
Plus, it’s not always appropriate to focus on conversion. For the best results, you need to tailor copywriting to the platform it appears on as well as your customer’s stage in the buying cycle. You need to build a relationship with your audience.
That’s why modern copywriting is split out into several strands – including direct response, social media, technical copywriting and much more. Professional copywriters are now responsible for all kinds of content that a reader sees at the top (brand awareness), middle (brand engagement) and bottom (conversion) of the sales funnel.
Comms was traditionally designed to inform rather than sell – and it still is, to an extent. You just need to look at the communications in relation to the pandemic to see it in action. The vast majority of businesses put out some sort of message to update customers on their response to the situation.
This type of writing is great at keeping the conversation with customers going. But it doesn’t necessarily build a strong relationship with them. The traditional approach to comms can make it feel cold, coming across as boring, unengaging, or too authoritative.
Thankfully, there’s less of a PR obligation today and more of an ongoing commitment to transparency and brand building. Comms has moved towards education to encourage trust. And, just like copywriting, we’ve seen a shift to tailored comms that targets a specific platform and audience.
Now, it’s become an important touchpoint that enables audiences to get familiar with a brand’s promises and values. Strong comms conveys a business’ personality and views on their social responsibility, helping consumers align more with their mission.
A hybrid approach
Both copywriting and comms have transformed over the years – they’ve ‘merged’, so to speak. Most businesses want to create a holistic brand that tells the whole story, and build a fantastic relationship with their audience. Adopting both copywriting and comms simultaneously through a hybrid approach to marketing strategy is therefore the ultimate way to provide value.
To do this, you need to think not just about quick-win content, but long-term objectives too. And that’s exactly what professional copywriters, like our team here at Making You Content, will help you do.
Together, we’ll figure out what success looks like for your brand and nail down the key messages that will strike a chord with your audience. We’ll then build a marketing plan that combines copywriting and comms for maximum impact. Contact our Manchester content agency to get started.