Why I hate language snobbery


Liz, April 28, 2017

I opened a newsletter from a rival copywriting company today. It was full of “helpful” advice about how to not embarrass yourself by muddling words. It also tried to kick off a debate on when and where it’s OK to correct someone else’s grammar.

So I’m just going to put it out there: I hate it, HATE it, when language gets talked about as an elitist set of rules that can only be accessed by a privileged few.

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Stuck for ideas?


You’re staring at the one third of a report you’ve managed to – somehow – scratch out. The deadline is looming. BBC News and Facebook have given your battered brain mild relief for the last 40 minutes. But, sadly, they’ve given you no ideas about what to put next.

You’re tired. You’re bored. And as the clock ticks, you’re beginning to feel slight flutters of panic.

We have a couple of unorthodox – but highly effective – suggestions for getting your brain into the zone and bursting with ideas when you’re feeling flat and uninspired.

They’re both about NOT THINKING. Or more precisely, about removing analytical filters from your thinking.

Because our brains are playful little treasure troves. And if we let them talk to us without censorship, we can fire up all sorts of innovative ways forward.

So if you’re stuck, try these things.

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What tone of voice is… and what it isn’t (or shouldn’t be)


Every now and again, we get a call that goes like this:

Person representing organisation: “We need a tone of voice. We don’t have a lot of budget because we’ve already done all the brand work with a design agency. In fact, they’ve done some of the tone of voice already, so all we need you to do is the engagement piece – you know, just get everyone to buy into the brand and communicate in a completely new way…”

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New friends – and great writing


Last Friday we held our Become a Better Copywriter in a Day workshop at the beautiful Linnean Society in Piccadilly – and we couldn’t have picked a better group of writers to join us.

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Poor service is costing companies big bucks – so why does it happen?

Contact centre

In the last few days, the Ombudsman Services has published data suggesting that poor customer service costs companies somewhere in the region of £37bn.

This calculation comes from figures that say more than a quarter of customers took their business elsewhere last year – or spent less money with a company – after receiving shoddy service.

So why does this happen? And what can organisations do to improve customer service?

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Turning the culture of a hospital around


Eight years ago, Birmingham Children’s Hospital was criticised for not having enough beds, operating theatres or trained staff. This week, it became the first hospital to be given an “outstanding” rating by inspectors.

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Corporations need creativity. Yet hierarchies, processes and rules squish free thinking. So what can be done?


Liz, February 10, 2017

Years ago, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, I went to a talk in the science tent where authors talked about the number one need for creativity: Getting views and approaches from outside your own discipline.

The best ideas came, they said, when different ways of thinking came together.

And this week, we heard an interesting extension of that argument – that of course bringing ideas together is important… but it has to be done in a spirit and culture of collaboration.

So where does that culture of collaboration come from?

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Communicating with stakeholders… or keeping everyone who needs to know in the loop

Communicating with Stakeholders

Liz, January 20, 2017

Everyone knows (or should know) that when you’re trying to get work done, you need to communicate regularly with all the members of the team who are doing the work.

In a well-run project, you do it to make sure the work happens efficiently and to deadline.

But there’s another group of people that organisations regularly forget about including in updates – and they’re the stakeholders.

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Terms and conditions – time to play fair

Agree Ts&Cs

Liz, January 6, 2017

Yesterday, the UK’s Children’s Commissioner published a report that condemned the “impenetrable” terms and conditions used by online media companies.

We agree that Ts&Cs are very rarely an easy read – but we think that it’s not just kids who don’t understand them.

We think it’s time for all companies to make their terms and conditions easy to understand and – dare we say it – interesting. Here’s why and how…

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Our year in numbers

Just to finish the year, a quick look at what we got up to in 2016…

Wordtree's 2016 in numbers

Click to enlarge.


How do you allocate budget to design, content and thinking?

Creative planning

Liz, December 16, 2016

Here’s a situation we found ourselves in a couple of years ago. An organisation wanted our copywriters to produce a 30-ish page brochure.

It’s a piece of collateral they’d produced every year. They loved the look of it – and felt that visually, it was fresh and relevant. But when it came to the content, they felt that unfocussed messaging and lack of differentiation in the story they were telling were letting them down.

It sounded like a great piece of work – the kind of thing we really like to get our teeth into.

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How not to market to people in their 40s

Online Marketing

Liz, December 9, 2016

Or – if another marketer categorises me as “middle aged” I may just strangle them with an elasticated trouser waistband…

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Congratulations Tellermate!

Tellermate team at the CIM Wales awards

Huge congratulations to our friends at Tellermate – a global cash management company – who won the Best Use of Content Marketing award at the CIM Wales awards last night.

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A day of creative copywriting in London

copywriting workshop

Last week we hosted our final copywriting workshop of 2016 at the beautiful Linnean Society in London.

Writers from Purplebricks, Cats Protection, ACCA, M&S, UK Greetings and Propellernet joined us for a day of writing, discussion and creativity. A big thank you to everyone who came along – it was lovely to spend time with you.

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Conferences: Worth the money – or Emperor’s new clothes?


Liz, November 16, 2016

This is a question I’ve been asking myself since I first dropped about £600 to pay the entry into one of them a few years ago.

I mean, £600 is a lot of money.

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Creative Boost writing

Creative Boost

A couple of weeks ago we held our Creative Boost weekend. There were so many lovely pieces of writing that we wanted to share some on the blog  – so we asked people to send us their favourite pieces.

Here’s a selection…

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Remembering Aberfan


Liz, October 21, 2016

Most days I drive down the A470 to work. Half-way down, just south of Pentrebach, I go past the sign for Aberfan.

Fifty years ago, the dual carriageway through the valleys into Cardiff didn’t exist. So the 1.4m cubic feet of coal slurry and debris that slammed through the village and engulfed the school flowed straight over where the road now is.

I’ve always think of the kids when I drive past the exit. So many from one small community. What a quiet place it must have been in the months and years afterwards. And of course, all of us at Wordtree were thinking of Aberfan when we stood for a minute’s silence in Cardiff’s Millennium Centre this morning to mark the 50th anniversary of the disaster.

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Creative Boost 2016


Last weekend we held a fantastic Creative Boost weekend. There were stories, poems, beautiful business writing – and the ideas! If even a fraction of them make their way into the world, it’ll be a more interesting, colourful place.

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Don’t talk “staff”, talk teams


Liz, October 27, 2016

In the late 1950s, my mum started working in a factory’s typing pool. She had to call the head honcho typist “Miss” – and any of the many men whose typing she did, “Sir”.

People with more senior jobs were “them”. The scores of girls in the typing pool and the hundreds of men working on the shop floor were “us”. There was a group of people known as “management” and beneath them were “staff”.

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Playing nicely together in the sand pit

Liz, October 14, 2016

Agency collaboration

The way big clients commission creative work is changing. Once upon a time they’d just hire a great big agency to do the whole project. But in recent years, the more creative and more cost-effective option is often to hire several smaller agencies – or a big one and a couple of smaller ones. But this more recent approach hasn’t been without its teething problems. We think there have to be changes on both client and agency side to get the best value out of this new arrangement.

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