Do you want to be a part of Mifinder?

mifinder crowdfunding campaignOur social support platform Mifinder is crowdfunding, and, being a public venture, I’d like to share what we’re doing with my network, for anyone who wants to get involved.

For the past few years I have been working with my friend and colleague Gabriel Saclain on Mifinder. It’s a free iOS app that connects people based on shared life experiences, to reduce isolation and build social support networks. An early test version is already available for free from the Apple store, we’ve built an excellent team of board members and advisers, and we are now raising funds to expand the service and bring the platform to market. 

Having already secured initial funding from angel investors, we are opening the investment opportunity to members of the public, in the spirit of community that the platform is founded on. Through the popular crowdfunding site Seedrs, we’re offering equity in the company in return for investment. Continue reading

Narrative Adverts: right and wrong ways to tell a story

narrative adverts right and wrongDuring frequent recent trips to the cinema, I’ve been inordinately exposed to the San Miguel advert that insists there’s a beer with an interesting story. It’s 29been bothering me for a while, but it didn’t bear dwelling on until I happened to be exposed to Johnnie Walker’s The Man Who Walked Around the World from some six years ago (while at whisky school, if you must know). That video shone a candle on everything that’s wrong with the San Miguel advert, and made me realise how much, between them, the two adverts say about a good narrative. Continue reading

The dangers of writing for mass appeal

danger writing mass appealBack in my fledgling days of writing blogs, I made a faux pas of giving a client’s (rather technical) article an overhaul into language that was light, readable and accessible by everyone. What was once a very niche topic could now be enjoyed by all. I was very politely told that no, they preferred the original version, to suit what people in the industry expect. The original, in all fairness, was not bad – it wasn’t unclear, or inaccurate, it just wasn’t something that could be read easily by all. I’d allowed myself to get so bogged down in the swamp of content sharing, awash with this style gets more readers, snappy headlines get clicks and the immortal keep it simple, that I’d forgotten that not all audiences are the same – and not everyone had to read this article, only the right people. Continue reading

Combating clichéd thinking – change your starting point

cliche writingGiven a fairly unoriginal brief, or a marketing stance that lacks certain imagination, it’s all too natural for clichés to start flooding your mind when you come. So what if you hit that terrible stumbling block when, for everything you try, you keep coming back to the same clichés? Consider that unoriginal starting point, that unimaginative bridge, and reposition yourself. Continue reading

How to justify expensive dining

expensive diningMy wife and I went to a cafe at the weekend, where they said the potato hashes were amazing. We’d heard about it from a few different sources. A cramped diner with plastic sheets, and a massive plate of basically all the component parts of a Full English breakfast mashed together in some magnificent mess. It was, as you may predict, amazing. It also cost £8.10. An expensive dining experience for what it was, if you consider that a bit of potato and some diced sausage probably amounts to a few pence of produce. Relative to a pleasant evening meal in Brighton it’s a pittance, but relative to similar experiences this was an expensive breakfast. And all value, after all, is relative. So why was it worth it?

Continue reading

Screaming for creative problem solving

screaming for creativitySomewhere down the road from me there is a woman who screams at her children every morning before they leave for school. For reasons unknown, they are never ready on time and seem to perpetually neglect the need to brush their teeth. So, like clockwork, we are blessed with the screeching alarm of a frustrated mother yelling “Do you teeth, NOW!” with the admonition “I will not be late for work because of you!” This morning, like always, such yelling did not appear to have the desired effect, as ten minutes passed and she was still shouting for the same thing. One of the children started crying, and a few extra phrases were thrown into her usual mix – “Shut up!” and “No, you should say sorry to me!”

It would appear that the very thing she’d hoped would spur these disobedient children along had actually made her more late than ever. Continue reading

How to Use Grammar to Rewrite Sentences

grammar rewrite sentenceA solid understanding of English fundamentals allows for some very flexible sentence structures. Rules can be bent, complex ideas rearranged, and ideas rewritten – either for variety, adding spice to your texts, or simply to restate something in a different way (useful if you want to regurgitate other people’s ideas, for example). This is a subject I’d originally focused on from a foreign learner’s perspective, but came to realise it’s something all writers in English might benefit from taking a closer look at. To explore it fully, I’ve broken down an example sentence to demonstrate ways that English sentences can be rearranged. Continue reading

Bending the rules of formal writing for business and correspondence

bending formal writing rulesWhen exploring techniques for formal writing  in business and correspondence, there are two points that effectively form the building blocks of appearing official, neutral, neat and polite. Essentially, writing in the passive voice and using formal vocabulary. There are times when you can sound too formal, though, when a little human touch is necessary. Hoping to calm down an angry employee or customer, for example, or in building relationships. Using these two key techniques in formal writing, it’s possible to start bending the rules. Continue reading

Why get pedantic about “incorrect” English?

poor preposition choiceAs copywriters, it’s our prerogative to pick holes in language use, often overly so. Ranting about an insignificant grammar rule, fuming at unoriginal adjectives, these are the things that we could go to war over. The problem is, many of these issues don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. I saw the sign to the left at St Pancras a few days ago and momentarily scoffed – what, as opposed to the lift without heavy luggage? Rue this careless copywriter, leaving room for ambiguity, right? Actually, no, more rue me – wasting my time deriding this kind of thing. Tens of thousands of people see this every day and I very much doubt a single person has been confused by this sign. Continue reading

Bare-faced Psychological Pricing Shenanigans That Don’t Bother Me

psychological pricingThere’s a convenience shop near me that sells a two litre bottle of milk for £1.69, where they cheat me out of a penny every time I go there. And I love them for it. It’s almost twice the price of our nearest supermarket, but also almost twice as close. With the extra five minutes to get to Morrisons saving me 70p, the equivalent of a £8.40 an hour reimbursement, I’m fairly happy to use the closer store, and I’m just happy to know that they will shamelessly stop short of full committal to the psychological pricing lie. Continue reading