Articles



Tiffany Markman
Whaaat?!? You copied my copy?

Reflections on textual pickpocketing... by a victim of copy thieves.

By Tiffany Markman 24 Jul 2013

Tiffany Markman
Plain language may not be what you think it is

I've been ranting and raving for the last two hours. My face is red and I have a large vein pulsating on my forehead. Simply: I am irate beyond reason. This is why...

By Tiffany Markman 28 Jun 2013

[2013 trends] The old 'new' rules for language
[2013 trends] The old 'new' rules for language

Here's my list of old 'new' language rules for 2013: things that have evolved over the last few years, things pro writers are using in certain contexts and things you will see more and more in today's writing, now that you know what to look for. [Please note: the listed items are to be used only in light of the mini-disclaimer at the bottom.]

By Tiffany Markman 15 Jan 2013

Dear Apostrophe (A Love Letter)
Dear Apostrophe (A Love Letter)

You and I have come a long way together. We began our collaboration some 25 years ago, when you'd regularly forgive my crayoned abuse of your good nature. Then, we became allies: just you and me, against the world, using permanent marker to 'correct' the punctuation on signs proclaiming Ladies Room.

By Tiffany Markman 19 Oct 2012

Tiffany Markman
The top five 'Adjectives to Avoid' in your corporate profile (Part I)

In a recent column on how (and why) a company has to have a corporate profile, I emphasised the value of providing a compelling reason for the reader to choose you - specifically, outlining what it is about your business that elevates it above your competitors. To do this, you need to use good adjectives. Un-boring ones.

By Tiffany Markman 19 Sep 2012

Tiffany Markman
Writing for PowerPoint, or 'How not to bore your audience to death'

There are 300 million PowerPoint users worldwide. There are 30 million PowerPoint presentations happening daily. About a million right now, as you read this. And at least 50% of those (but probably more) are unbearable. In short, 500 000 audiences wish the boardroom ceiling would fall on them. Or on the speaker.

By Tiffany Markman 19 Jul 2012

Tiffany Markman
Neuroeconomics for dummies & those with little time

I was invited to a talk on neuroeconomics. Yes, really. And it blew my mind. Here's why: presented by Prof Don Ross* of UCT, the talk unpacked the brain's reward system, what motivates people to act, and - most importantly for me as a copywriter and communicator - how to entrench a short brand message in the reader's mind.

By Tiffany Markman 12 Jun 2012

Tiffany Markman
How not to self-destruct on Twitter: the People vs Jessica, Tshidi & Itumeleng

I wrote a piece recently on the five things you should look out for on Twitter. And then, oh then, what happens but several fascinating case studies emerge before me. Not one. Not two. Three.

By Tiffany Markman 9 May 2012

Five things to watch out for on Twitter
Five things to watch out for on Twitter

Let's say you're new to Twitter. Okay - no-one who reads Bizcommunity is new to Twitter. Let's say you've been on Twitter a while and you mostly love it, but you have minor reservations about a) its time-wasting potential, b) its actual value to your brand, or c) when and whether to distance yourself from your fellow tweeps.

By Tiffany Markman 23 Apr 2012

#bankwars: 'Steve' vs Standard Bank, the sequel
#bankwars: 'Steve' vs Standard Bank, the sequel

Oy vey. What a can of worms. In part I, I raised the question of whether FNB's lofty promises, delivered via the chirpy 'Steve', were empty. I did so, as you know, publicly. And I learned two very important things. Here they are:

By Tiffany Markman 12 Mar 2012

But is it lies? 'Steve' vs Standard Bank
But is it lies? 'Steve' vs Standard Bank

I seldom pick sides in fights such as #bankwars. Barring an ambivalent flip through the twitterverse to find out who hates who and get a glimmer of insight into why, I wait for the cacophonous twysteria to die down; for my stream to return to 'normal'. But this time, I have a definite bias.

By Tiffany Markman 27 Feb 2012

[2012 trends] 12 words we'll see more in 2012
[2012 trends] 12 words we'll see more in 2012

Wait. That's a bit of a fib. Sorry. Every year, my Biz Trends contribution is a wish list of stuff I'd like to see happen in marketing, communication or writing. I'm often right. But this year I want to be right.

By Tiffany Markman 11 Jan 2012

Tiffany Markman
Four ways to use specificity in your communication

My grandmother was a remarkable woman. Outspoken. Opinionated. She had a tracksuit. (And she wasn't a tracksuit person. She was a dress-with-matching-belt person. She wore anoraks. And sensible shoes.) The tracksuit was blue. But every time you suggested that she wear her blue tracksuit, she'd snap, "It's not blue. It's turquoise, dammit!" She was right. Here are four quick and easy ways to write and speak specifically...

By Tiffany Markman 25 Nov 2011

Tiffany Markman
Eight guidelines for report writing

You'll agree that what I'm about to say is not rocket science. Here goes: a report is written to be read by someone else. Now, if this is the central goal, a lot of your focus should fall on that 'someone else', and on giving them what they need, in a format that'll work for them, so that they read what you've written and rapidly agree with it.

By Tiffany Markman 7 Oct 2011

Tiffany Markman
What does a copywriter do anyway?

I'm asked this question a lot. Usually after I explain that, "No, the copywriter isn't the person who puts the little 'c' into the circle. That's copyright." I'm also often asked the difference between copywriters and editors. So, in case you've ever wondered what we do, or whether you need one of us to assist you, here's some insight for you.

By Tiffany Markman 20 Sep 2011

Tiffany Markman
'Yours truly': options for closing emails (part II)

Ciao. Yours truly. Regards. Yours sincerely. Thanks. TGIF. However you choose to close your business emails, there's a message there. And that message is the last impression with which your reader is left. So you may as well get it right.

By Tiffany Markman 3 Aug 2011

Tiffany Markman
"Dear Beloved": options for email greetings (part I)

Dear Sir/Madam. Hi there. Greetings. Howdy. Howzit. Dear Beloved. However you choose to kick off your business emails, there's a message there. And that message is the very first impression your reader gets. So you may as well get it right.

By Tiffany Markman 4 Jul 2011

Tiffany Markman
What we do to avoid doing jobs we don't like

Sometimes I have a freelance job to do and I can't bring myself to get going. Luckily, this happens rarely. But when it happens, I'm always blown away by the wide range of weird, random, unnecessary things I'll condescend to do - especially 'workish' things - to avoid actually starting the project in question...

By Tiffany Markman 5 May 2011

Proper, more powerful paragraphing
Proper, more powerful paragraphing

I'm a big believer in short paragraphs. Especially for copy that will be read on-screen or under time pressure. Long paragraphs are difficult for most readers, who are busy, important and like to see a subject divided into segments for quick scanning and navigation. The length issue also becomes more pressing as screen displays narrow, thanks to smartphones and other mobile devices. So, what to do? Here are six rules...

By Tiffany Markman 24 Mar 2011

Six tips for crafting subheads for web copy
Six tips for crafting subheads for web copy

A visitor to your site will glance at the whole page before he so much as tastes the first sentence. For this reason, it's important to clearly separate web copy with well-articulated ideas, divided by subheadings or 'subheads' that allow the reader to move from headline to headline in search of the value beneath. And, SEO dictates that good subheads be used to bring in additional traffic.

By Tiffany Markman 14 Feb 2011

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