Come to the 2014 Professional Copywriters’ Network Conference

Tom Albrighton

ABC Copywriting

We’re very pleased to announce the second Professional Copywriters’ Network Conference, on Friday 26 September 2014 at Haberdashers’ Hall, London.

The full ticket price is £345 + VAT, but a limited number of Early Bird tickets are available at £245 + VAT. To book, please visit the dedicated copywriting conference website. We’re also promoting it on Twitter with the hashtag #PCN2014.

It’s going to be a fantastic day, packed with learning and discussion on a wide range of copywriting topics – plus the chance to meet and chat with your fellow writers, of course. To get a flavour of the event, check out this highlights video from last year.

What’s changed, what’s different

I think it’s fair to say that the 2013 conference went down pretty well with most delegates. That’s because their feedback forms said things like ‘great atmosphere, brilliant speakers’, ‘an excellent day of learning, networking and fun’, ‘probably the most interesting and inspirational speakers of any conference I’ve been to’ and ‘absolutely fabulous day’.

For 2014, we’re aiming to keep everything people liked, while improving where we can.

One thing we decided to keep is the venue. Haberdashers’ is a beautiful building with a lot of character, and its layout is perfectly suited to the format of our event, so it made sense to return. If the weather’s fine, we may even get to have lunch outside, in the central courtyard.

Last year, we promoted the entire event via a single web page that ended up groaning under the weight of information. This year, we’ve done the decent thing and given the conference its own dedicated website, with full programme details, speaker bios and venue info. Kudos to my co-founder, Ben Locker, for doing the coding.

When you visit, you’ll see that the full programme is already in place – unlike last year, when the bill wasn’t finalised until a few weeks before the day. Things may still change due to factors we can’t control, but we hope that a confirmed programme will make the decision to attend that much easier.

In terms of the programme itself, we’re keeping the same ‘speakers plus breakouts’ structure as last year, with one small change. We’re still offering four breakouts, but we’ve opted for three headline speakers instead of four. This gives a full hour for the breakout sessions, so tutors can go into more depth and give delegates longer hands-on challenges. We’ve also made the drinks and lunch breaks a little longer, so there’s more time for networking – a really important part of the event, particularly for freelancers who work alone.

We’re really excited about the selection of speakers and breakouts this year. Here’s how it lines up.

Rory Sutherland: Behavioural economics, or what copywriters have always known but have often found hard to explain

As those who attended last year will appreciate, choosing a keynote speaker who can follow Dave Trott is no mean feat. But we think we’ve found one in Rory Sutherland.

Like Dave, Rory is a pretty good advert for how far you can go from a start as a copywriter. Admittedly, he began as a planner for Ogilvy & Mather Direct in 1988, but quickly switched to the creative department as a junior copywriter, rising to Head of Copy by 1996 and then Creative Director in 1997. Rory was promoted to Executive Creative Director in 2002 and, more recently, also became Vice-Chairman of the overall Ogilvy Group in the UK.

Aside from those glowing professional credentials, Rory is also well known as a fascinating and hugely entertaining speaker. Take a look at this clip and you’ll see what I mean.

In his talk, entitled ‘What copywriters have always known but have often found hard to explain’, Rory will be looking at the writer’s craft through the lens of behavioural economics. Why do people decide to buy one product over another? How do their thoughts and feelings effect that decision? And how can we, as copywriters, influence what goes on inside their heads?

Dr Jillian Ney: Finding influence online

Although we were very pleased with our lineup last year, it arguably could have been a bit more digital. This year, we’re putting that right with the inclusion of the UK’s first Doctor of social media, Jillian Ney.

Jillian is CEO of Disruptive Insight, a social intelligence consultancy who specialise in transforming digital noise into valuable insight for business. She’s also a visiting academic at the University of Strathclyde, where she lectures on digital marketing and social media. Here she is talking about her research.

You can also watch Jillian speaking on ‘Connectedness and the Digital Self’ at a TEDx event here.

For her PhD, Jillian explored social consumer behaviour during a purchase decision, and how the credibility of social content is determined. She then developed cutting edge frameworks to segment and analyse social data for business and launched her own consultancy specialising in social-media intelligence.

Jillian will examine the question of how content shared and published via social media can influence consumers. What types of content are most persuasive and effective, and how can we craft messages that have both social credibility and the power to change people’s behaviour?

Tim Rich: The serious business of stories

As a topic of keen interest for marketers, storytelling shows no signs of declining, and was also named as one of the most popular topics when we surveyed PCN members on what they’d like to see from our first conference. We immediately thought of Tim, but he wasn’t available last year. We’re delighted that he’s agreed to speak at this year’s event.

In a world where practically everyone claims to be a storyteller, Tim is the real deal. In addition to working as a speechwriter, content director and communications consultang, he’s written for brands including BP, Land Securities, KPMG, Sainsburys and Orange.

You might also know Tim as the co-founder of writers’ association 26. Or you might have come across his excellent and always thoughtful blog.

Tim will be looking at what really makes a story a story, and what’s wrong with many of the stories being shared by businesses and marketers. He will explain how to overcome client anxieties about telling a great stories, and how you can use stories to promote your own business.

Breakout sessions

Once again, we’re offering a choice of four breakout sessions. You can let us know your first and second choices when you book your ticket, and we’ll do everything in our power to make sure you get the one you want. (We’re happy for everyone to do whatever they want, but we’re limited by the capacity of the various rooms at Haberdashers’.)

As with the main bill, our breakout sessions are very much a response to the topics requested by members and 2013 delegates.

  • An introduction to tone of voice with Liz Doig of Wordtree. Liz is an accomplished writer and trainer who’s worked with brands including Coutts, BP, Shelter, Standard Life and many others. This concise one-hour introduction to tone of voice will give you an overview of key concepts and techniques that you can use in your day-to-day copywriting work.
  • The psychology of copywriting with Bill Hilton. Pioneering psychologist Daniel Kahnemann has arguably done more than anyone else alive to illuminate the way we really make decisions. While we may believe that we base our actions on reason, logic and facts, the reality is far more complex and chaotic. Copywriter, author and trainer Bill Hilton will be using Kahnemann’s concepts of ‘System One’ and ‘System Two’ to examine the way people really make decisions, and how we can craft our copy to take advantage.
  • How to make more money as a freelance copywriter with Andy Maslen. Andy was one of the most requested speakers for 2013, and the talk he gave fully justified your love. This year, we’re delighted that he’ll be sharing some tried and tested wisdom on one of his favourite subjects: how copywriters can set and negotiate better rates. If you’re a freelance copywriter and you like money, this is a must-attend.
  • Strapped for a strapline? with Ros Sinclair. The winner of a host of awards including a D&AD pencil for copy, Ros has worked for a host of top agencies here and in Australia. She’s now a lecturer in creative advertising and branding at Birmingham City University, In this practical, results-focused session, she’ll be explaining some killer techniques for writing better headlines. (I attended a version of this session at the Who Needs Copywriters event in 2013, and it was excellent.)

So there you have it – three fantastic speakers, a choice of four great breakouts and the chance to network with dozens of your fellow writers. Hurry along to the copywriting conference website and book your ticket now.

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