Group shots

September 11, 2016 at 10:50 am | Posted in copywriting | 8 Comments
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group team photo shot corporate business

All together now …

A small-business client sent me a photo of herself posing with staff and colleagues at an industry function.

She asked if and how the shot could be used on her website.

After examining it, here’s what I said:

Normally, pics like these bore readers to tears (so I advise ditching them).

This photo, however, is unusually well executed.

So, the questions are, will your website’s target audience:

  1. Know who these people are?
  2. Be impressed?

If 1 and 2 are YES, you could use the pic as is, with no copy at all.

If 1 is NO but  2 is YES, you’ll need to identify the people by name, title and organisation for optimal effect.

You could do this the usual way (i.e. via a caption) but it might be a bit long given the number of people in frame.

Alternatively, you could embed these data such that they appear when the screen cursor hovers over each face.

Or, you could add a number to each person and add a legend with the data beside or below the pic.

Or, you could distil the pic into a silhouette (e.g. black line or solid shape on white background) and add numbers to each face – plus a legend as described above.

Regardless of the answer to question 1, if 2 is NO there’s no value in using the pic.

My client was grateful for this analysis.

And I realised two things:

  1. Though my forte is words, I’ve been around long enough to pick up some visual tips.
  2. I’m good at laying out solutions to help people decide things and get them done.

I hope you got something from reading this too.


Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by The Happy Rower.


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Treasure grove

June 12, 2015 at 11:44 am | Posted in copywriting | Leave a comment
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I recently helped a client with the piece below. Aaron’s aim was to give a personal perspective of his profession. When we were done, however, we realised the content wasn’t ‘newsy’ enough for the Latest News section of Ecology and Heritage Partners‘ website.

It’s more of a blog post, but the site doesn’t have a blog (yet). So I suggested I host the post here until then. I think it’s a great story that ought to be told. So, over to you Aaron! (Click the pics to make them BIG.)

 Treasure grove

Finding a threatened species in an exotic plantation.

Aaron Organ, Director / Principal Ecologist, Ecology and Heritage Partners.

This true, personal tale – though small in scope – touches on many state, national and global environmental themes.

A tiny adventure

On a family holiday in Bright in Northeast Victoria, we drove past a large Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata) plantation. Having read of many fairy-tale forests, my six-year-old son asked if we could go into a real one.

His request reminded me where my ‘spark’ began: catching tadpoles in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, camping on weekends and taking long road trips with my own parents.

Into the wild …

So I turned onto a dirt track and drove deep into Crown land with an appropriate sense of stewardship …

The journey begins

From outside, the forest didn’t look much.

Inside, it appeared pleasant, but fairly sterile to my ecological mind.

Yet my son was entranced, so we went for a walk to see what we could find.

Not much to see in this monoculture.

The sun shone and the road sounds faded. After a while, we came to a shallow gully formed from a rain-eroded drainage line.

Barely an understorey to speak of.

It was then that we heard this sound.

Now it was my turn to be entranced! Because I’d heard this sound before. And I knew it was a Bibron’s (or Brown) Toadlet (Pseudophryne bibronii).

Why was this so exciting? Because the Bibron’s Toadlet:

A quest!

Eager to track the tiny sounds to their source and show my son, l fossicked among the forest debris.

To my delight, I soon caught a beautiful specimen in the undergrowth and displayed him (ironically) on the sawn stump of a tree.

You little beauty!

Simple lessons; profound truths

Had my son not asked to see this forest, at this time of year, we’d not have had this experience.

Happily, it seems my love of the outdoors has rubbed off on him. That’s why he was looking out the car window instead of down at some screen. This is vital, because if our kids don’t know what’s out there, they won’t care when it’s gone.

Not that I’m against technology. While these photos and sounds aren’t fabulous, the power to capture them – instantly – on a mobile phone, would’ve been unthinkable to naturalists even 20 years ago. This bodes well for the (much needed) rise of citizen scientists.

What I am saying is that society should slow down and enjoy the outdoors. People also need to encourage and empower the next generation to appreciate and care for the environment – before it’s too late.

This trip also reinforced my thinking that we should all look at ‘degraded’ environments with more circumspection. Though our planet has taken a pounding, it can still pleasantly surprise.

From ‘waste’ to habitat.

If a toadlet can persist in what could fairly be described as homogenous pine, what else is out there where we least expect it?

Finally, residents of (and visitors to) Bright may derive even more enjoyment from the environs if they know that, deep in the forest, a special creature still calls.

Learn more!

Like to know more about what my expert team and I do with toadlets and other native animals? Drop me a line at or 0425 873 159.

I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you, Aaron.

I greatly look forward to hearing what our readers think!

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pics and recording by Aaron Organ.

The true tale of Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe

March 23, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Posted in copywriting | 7 Comments
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Lady Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe (of Abbotsford).

I was rewriting a large website for a client with the glorious double-barrelled name (changed for this tale) of Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe.

With big projects, I often begin with small bits and work my way up at increasing speed.

Staff bios (profiles) are a great starting point.

When I got to Elizabeth’s bio, I recalled that she’d introduced herself to me as Liz.

She also signed her emails as Liz, yet her email address was

And so I wrote:

‘Dear Liz,

Are you predominantly Liz, Lizzy, Elizabeth (or some other permutation) to your various audiences?

The name they read should be the one they use.

If we can pick one variation and use it consistently across all communication channels, we’ll strengthen your brand.

If, however, use is situational, we can give this idea a miss.’

Liz replied:

‘My name is Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe.

Business cards, emails etc all use Elizabeth.

99% of people call me Liz.’

So I said:

‘Thank you, Liz.

So, all your business comms are in sync with just 1% of your audience.

As you’re obviously rebranding, can we ditch Elizabeth for Liz in all instances going forward?

Liz is shorter, friendlier and more accessible.

(Three traits that are particularly attractive when one has a double-barrelled surname.)

It’s impossible to misspell Liz.

And you’ll never again have to start a relationship with, ‘Please, call me Liz’.

This may remove small but unsettling uncertainties for some anxious folk.

Make sense?’

Liz said:

‘Liz it is.’

And so started our website optimisation collaboration.

Liz not only ended up with perfect online content.

She also got a sharper, stronger and more consistent personal brand.

I love it when that happens!


Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by #1 Airsoft Mom.

Cheap shots!

January 22, 2013 at 5:11 am | Posted in copywriting | 7 Comments
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Some salient points …

When I read the quote for my new website, I got a fright. It said something like ‘pictures not included’*.

Last time I worked in a creative studio, clients were charged up to $150 per picture (pic). I needed nine.

Fortunately, much has changed in recent years.

I found and bought the pics I needed for only $15 each – a tenth of what I feared. My relief mirrored that of clients tracking this project with a view to doing their own sites.

Maybe you’ll benefit too.

Above is one of the pics I bought. You don’t see a lot of cuneiform on today’s corporate websites; it’s my WaPIUSP^!

This medium-sized pic is perfect for my purposes. The price licences me to use it on my website and this blog. Legally (and technically) I can’t plaster it on a jet or a skyscraper, but if I’m that successful, I’ll happily fork out an extra tenner.

I got the pic from iStockphoto. All the art directors I consulted recommended this site. Some also mentioned Shutterstock and Dreamstime but I didn’t find these as easy to use. You may.

In addition to being cheap and easy, iStockphoto had all the pics I sought. I added them to my ‘lightbox’, bought ‘credits’ on my credit card, downloaded the files to my PC and emailed them to my IT Guy. Once he got them, it was on.

I’m thrilled. And glad not to be dealing with a full-service advertising agency from last decade. In those days, CDs costing around $450 held themed sets of around 80 pics (e.g. Ancient Scripts in the Workplace).

Once a client approved a creative concept, the agency bought the necessary CD (if it didn’t own it already). It then charged the client up to $150 per pic!

Thus, after recouping the cost in as few as three pic sales, the agency reaped pure profit from subsequent sales for the life of the CD.

So long as cuneiform stayed in vogue, the CD was a money machine.

Next time you get a quote for a job with pics, ask how much they are. You may save quite a few shekels (and get exactly what you want) by sourcing them yourself.


Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

* Images … will need to be provided or … sourced and the licensing fees paid … licensing fees are not included …

^ Weird and Possibly Ineffective Unique Selling Proposition.

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