Learnings from Copywriting Conference 2017

Copywriting-Conference-logoLast week I attended the 2017 Copywriting Conference, hosted by ProCopywriters at The Crystal in London and billed as “One day dedicated to the art and science of copywriting”.

For Firehead’s sponsorship of the event, I gave a CV Surgery. Conference attendees brought me their CV works-in-progress and, during 15-minute one-on-one sessions, I gave them bespoke advice as a recruiter working in the field of digital communications. It was a fun and interesting way to meet people who are looking at the future of content.

One thing I learned is that many creatives are both interested and worried about the changes that new technology will be making on their careers. There’s a fear, for example, that machines will take their jobs. As I’ve said before, the wise content producer will always be adapting to the new environment – we all need to be life-long learners now – but machines will not be able to replace the creative process as efficiently as it will other specialities. Machines will be able to provide quick and accurate aggregated research to use as input to creative work, but humans will still have a place in the process.

The 2017 Copywriting Conference was very popular – it sold out long before the date – and the speaker line-up was fantastic:

You can also read Dawn Kofie’s round-up of the conference on the ProCopywriters’ blog.

I’ll be following up here on the Firehead blog with a post on CV Rules. At Firehead, we have a rather unique approach as recruiters in that we’d rather see your creativity than streamline things with standardisation. Because we are a boutique agency operating in the digital communications field, it’s all about finding out who our job candidates really are, and how they communicate, so that we can find the best fit for our clients.

If you want to find out more about becoming a Firehead candidate and joining our talent bank, please visit our Candidates section.

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Useful links for digital communicators (September 2017)

glasses on keyboard (CC) Michael SaechangIt’s back to school month and we’ve been doing our homework and bookmarking industry insight, professional development and training articles, and other useful links within the field of digital communications.

In our September roundup, we highlight the latest reads in artificial intelligence (AI), plain language, content, techcomm, metadata and recruitment.

We also post regularly to our Firehead’s Twitter and LinkedIn pages, so please do connect with or follow us there.

Plain language

Content – creation, strategy, sharing

Techcomm

Metadata

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Recruitment and workplace trends

Image: (CC) Michael Saechang/Flickr

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Interview with a… Training Manager

Many digital content and techcomm professionals think about going into training as they develop and build their careers so we are particularly pleased to hear about what this work entails from Dan Jones, a training manager for a global insurance firm based in Zurich, Switzerland. He reveals how to get started in training, why learning professionals are more in demand than traditional classroom trainers and why he loves the job.

You can also read more interviews with professionals working across the field of digital communications in our Interview with a… series.

Dan Jones, Training ManagerWhat is your job title?

Officially, I’m a training manager, but I like to call myself a modern workplace learning professional since it’s a better reflection of what I do. I’m employed full-time with a global insurance company in Switzerland.

What does your job involve?

I help our employees acquire knowledge, apply new skills and shift attitudes through modern approaches to workplace learning, communication and change management.

So, in addition to designing and delivering classroom and online courses, I create ‘learning experiences’ that go beyond traditional, face-to-face training sessions. I manage a learning community, produce and host webinars, and monitor social media groups.

And I use my techie and design skills to build SharePoint collaboration sites, create social media graphics and videos, and produce microlearning modules and apps that learners use to reinforce their learning both before and after a class. Continue reading

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Feeling behind on digital content? You’re not alone…

A six-page snapshot of 2017 content trends was released earlier this year, showing the state of play in digital content development and delivery for those who work in the industry.

The survey of 1900 writers, managers, IAs and content strategists asked about their use of tools, processes, content types, customer content expectations and more. The resulting data from Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL) and the Center for Information-Development Management (CIDM) wanted to track how, and if, organisations or individual professionals were adapting their processes and content to be more viable in an increasingly electronic world.

One comforting finding for some will be that just over half (51%) of those polled felt that their content was not ready for the future – a 21% increase over last year. “There is comfort in knowing you are not alone in the challenges you face,” said Dawn Stevens, Director of CIDM and President of Comtech Services. “I think so many participate in this survey year after year to see where they are in comparison to other companies, and to ensure that they are not being left behind.”

The fact that so many more respondents this year felt their content was not ready is a big wake-up call, however. “My sense is that the bar is constantly rising both in functionality and data volume, and if you’re not keeping up, you’re falling behind. I think the people who thought they’d just wait and see, are finding that they’re now that much further behind,” added Mark Gross, DCL’s president.

Key highlights

One of the biggest areas that needs improvement is the ability of customers to find and consume content more easily: Continue reading

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Useful links for digital communicators (July-August 2017)

Keyboard mouse by Michael Mol/FlickrCatch up on industry insight, professional development and training articles, and useful links from the field of digital communications via our regular links roundup.

We also post regularly to our Firehead’s Twitter and LinkedIn pages, so please do connect with or follow us there.

Here’s what we’ve been bookmarking and reading over the past month across the fields of AI, content strategy, techcomm, UX and digital communications recruitment. Continue reading

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Best of Augmented World Expo 2017 #AWE2017

AWE 2017 logoContent futurists alert! The eighth edition of Augmented World Expo (AWE) – the world’s largest augmented reality, virtual reality and wearable technology expo – took place in Santa Clara, California on 31 May-2 June.

Augmented reality hardware and software is still in the early stages relatively speaking but it is improving all the time, and many brands are keeping a keen eye out for AR applications that will help their business – which means jobs for the suitably skilled. As one of our recruitment areas at Firehead, the field of AR content is increasingly one to watch and so AWE is one of the most fascinating conferences for us to tune into, albeit from afar. We’re also looking forward to AWE’s European event in Munich, Germany on 19-20 October.

While AR content jobs and opportunities for digital communicators are not yet mainstream, it is certainly an area to watch. So here are some of our collected highlights from the main event to add to your bookmarks… Continue reading

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Useful links for digital communicators (June 2017)

glasses on keyboard (CC) Michael SaechangCatch up on industry insight, professional development and training articles, and useful links from the field of digital communications via our monthly links roundup.

We also post regularly to our Firehead’s Twitter and LinkedIn pages, so please do connect with or follow us there.

Here’s what we’ve been bookmarking and reading over the past month across the fields of content strategy, tech comm, UX and digital communications recruitment.

Continue reading

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Is DITA working for you? DITA Satisfaction Survey 2017 results

Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) has gained widespread adoption in the techcomm field, as both a tool and a standard for structured technical writing. Through semantic tagging and an XML architecture, it facilitates the re-use of content across different outputs and helps thousands of organisations around the world to deliver content more efficiently and cost-effectively.

And so it was with great interest that we received The Content Wrangler’s 2017 survey, which offers preliminary aggregate results on how satisfied adopters really are with DITA, as well as how they rate the benefits and the challenges.

Technical communication professionals working at 250 companies around the world have taken part so far. The DITA Satisfaction Survey is still open to DITA users – click here to have your say or read on for the survey highlights. Continue reading

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Catch up on Confab Central 2017

Confab signWhy not ‘confab’ vicariously with our wicked list of links from the annual content strategy conference held in the US.

Confab Central 2017 took place from 7-9 June in Minneapolis and brought together around 600 content leads, content strategists, brand strategists, heads of content, senior digital writers, chief content officers and other content professionals from around the world to talk content strategy.

LeVar Burton from Star Trek: The Next Generation was the celebrity keynote, talking about storytelling in the modern age, while author Ann Handley took the content strategist’s keynote slot challenging our built-up bank of biases and assumptions about content. Other leading lights from the world of content strategy – including Kristina Halvorson, Meghan Casey, Ahava Liebtag, Corey Vilhauer and Margot Bloomstein – were also giving talks on the latest thinking in this field.

Here’s the skinny… Continue reading

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How and why clients fail with their content commissions

Recently we highlighted earnings and freelance rates in the world of copywriting, according to the 2017 Professional Copywriters’ Network (PCN) survey. But the research also revealed a number of issues on the client side of hiring in copywriters.

PCN-LogoAmong the 500 UK copywriters who responded to the survey, 35% said that only some of their clients were comfortable judging copy; 5% admitted that only a few were. The survey concluded that some clients would “benefit from support when it comes to commissioning, critiquing and approving copy”.

Almost all respondents said some of their clients would benefit from advice on commissioning copy, for example, with only 10% saying few clients needed help instructing copywriters.

The main problems copywriters faced on receiving a work brief were a lack of basic information on content, tone and voice, and little guidance on who they were writing for. Continue reading

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