Recently, I was tasked with writing on-hold messages for one of our premier hospitality clients to help promote their new rewards program. Since they’re such a well-known client, I wanted to take special care to get it right. Luckily, this brand has been around a long time and has a good sense of who they are in the marketing world. So in order to nail down that vibe, here’s an overview of my process from concept to final script:
First, I meet with our team’s Creative Director to discuss our ideal approach. This is where we decide what we want the messaging to zero in on. In this case, since we know we’re dealing with a new rewards program, we need to figure out what aspects of that we want to highlight. This is also a good time to have quick brainstorming session about who the client is and how to approach the writing style.
Once I’ve settled on the points we want to highlight in the messaging, it’s time to dive deeper into the client’s branding. To begin, I take a look at the already existing material. Usually it’s a website, but sometimes, you get lucky and they’ll provide a style guide to help push you in the right direction. These materials help me get a feel for their overall vibe. Are they hip and trendy? Are they wholesome? Do they use big words or is their language simple? Do they focus on specifics and tangibles or is it more lofty and ethereal? Source materials like these are invaluable because it’s the best way to get a sense of how the client wants their brand represented. Yes, it’s our job to create copy for them, but it still needs to be reflective of their own established brand. In this case, the client was able to share an internal guide to their new campaign.
I sit down in front of my computer and write out a rough draft of the messages, using the client materials as a guide to stay on brand. I find it helpful to copy and paste phrases from the source material into my document. I am by no means suggesting plagiarizing their copy, but having their own words in front of me as I write helps keep me writing in their voice. I’ll also write down phrases and keywords as they come to me and put them at the top of my document. Even if I’m not sure where to use them yet, I’ll have them on hand to plug in later. It’s better to write something down and not use it than risk forgetting it.
After I write my spots, I read over them to check for errors and re-read the copy out loud. You have to remember that all of the copy is going to be read by a voice talent. Be sure that it’s easy to read. And be sure it actually sounds they way someone might speak. I also like to check to make sure I don’t repeat myself too often. You don’t want to find yourself using the same phrasing over and over. Your writing will sound tedious if you can’t find more than one way to express a thought.
At this point, I do a word count as well. In this case, the messages are for on-hold, so if the spots are too long, we risk the listener tuning out. I try to keep my messages under 80 words if possible. If the message is longer than eighty words, then It’s possible that I’m either saying too much at once, or not saying it effectively. Check for phrases that aren’t necessary and can be removed. Take out modifiers like “maybe” and “just.” I’m for sure guilty of over using those words. But I believe in writing how you would speak naturally, then deleting what you don’t need later. In the end, good writing is only as good as it is effective. It doesn’t matter how many big words you use or how much you say if no one understands the point you’re trying to make.
Once I’ve reviewed my work, I send it off to the Creative Director for review. This is where I like to have a secondary brainstorming session to improve the scripts. It’s not only good to have a second set of eyes to check for errors, but another writer may have an idea that I hadn’t thought of on the first draft.
After the director and I are both satisfied, the messages are sent to the client for review. At that point, you wait and hope they like your work. If they do, then it’s off to the voice talents for recording!
Here’s an example of the scripts I created for this hospitality client:
Welcome to rewards reimagined. More than a loyalty program, [redacted] gives you access the best of everything our hotel has to offer…like mobile check-in, free in-room wifi, and points towards free stays. Sign up today for your chance to experience more. More perks, more locations, more rewards, more unforgettable memories. Good travel is waiting.
With our rewards program, we’re creating a world of travel opportunities, centered on you. Opportunities that bring a new perspective on what you already know and expect from us, like unparalleled member benefits and recognition. For information on how you can start earning points toward elite benefits like members-only rates and free nights in one of our many luxurious suites, remain on the line. Or visit our website to learn more.
There’s a lot of nuance between decent copy and good copy. Decent copy gets the point across and nothing more: “Thanks for calling. We’re open from blah to blah. Please hold for yadda yadda yadda.” If you take the time to really get to know the client and write from their point of view, the messages will feel like an extension of their brand. And if you do it right, they might not even realize that the writing didn’t come from their own marketing team.
– Submitted by Chris Slezak, Messaging