What’s copywriting got to do with communications?

What has copywriting got to do with communications? Nothing, right?

Two different worlds. Copywriting is associated with the world of advertising. Communications is related to reputation management and public relations. What could possibly be common between the two?

I have just completed a month-long copywriting session and found myself corrected on many counts.

Not everything that we learn is through our knowledge of the same field. If we open our eyes to new things and take the risk of entering unchartered waters, we will find how the universe is connected and how knowledge can transcend across specialisations and verticals.

A few principles that I picked up from the program opened my eyes to the similarities that can exist across different programs.

#Principle 1: OBSERVE PEOPLE

Every business knows the importance of understanding customers. Whether it is the media or internally, the leaders and employees, or the end beneficiaries. Prioritising customer satisfaction and fostering a customer-centric culture is key to drawing up the right narrative. Hence, it becomes important that communicators understand their customers, their behavior, their needs, and what they want from the organisation.

#Principle 2: BRING IN THE EMOTIONS

We know that story telling is a powerful communication tool. What if we were to use the Navarasa (the nine moods that define human personality according to ancient Natya Shastra) strategically to weave in with our stories? Before the release of any narrative, ask yourself, which emotion out of these nine does your story convey– Shringara (love/beauty), Hasya (humor), Karuna (compassion), Raudra (anger), Veera (courage), Bibhatsa (disgust), Adbhuta (wonder), Bhayanaka (fear) or Shanta (bliss).

As communicators, we must learn to understand the emotions of our key stakeholders so that we can draw up an intense and compelling narrative that touches the right emotions of our audience.

#Principle 3: IMAGINE YOUR HEADLINE

The first thing that catches your eye in any advertisement is the headline. What is the headline that you are visualising for your corporate story? Keep going back to your story to check whether it reflects that headline, which will hold the undivided attention of your audience.

#Principle 4: BE CURIOUS

You cannot succeed in communications or for that matter, in any business/vertical, if you are not curious. Curiosity leads to new learnings. It fuels creativity. Read as much as you can about your company, its ethos, vision, mission, business, values…ask questions at every opportunity. Stay hungry for more knowledge. Develop a sharp nose for culling out stories and pay attention to your instincts!

#Principle 5: UNDERSTAND COMPETITON

Do not forget your research. Dig deep into the ‘why’ of your corporate story. What makes for its stickiness? What are your customers reading? Who is the competition to your product/brand? What is the USP of your product/brand?

#Principle 6: GO REGIONAL

We know this – regional media has the power and potential to up the game for any story. Go regional. Study the regional media. Develop ties with local stakeholders. Share the regional impact story. Not all news all the time has to be in English media. Think local.

#Principle 7: BE CONFIDENT

Confidence is contagious! Confident teams are known to perform more successfully. They thrive in a collaborative environment and are willing to offer support to one another. Confident people focus on what can be achieved together.

The next time you see an advertisement, pause and think of what message it is conveying to you. What emotion does it evoke in you? What is staying with you? Then go back to your communication narrative and look at it again to see the purpose, the emotion, the headline, and the very ethos of it. Try it.


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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