A new form of “conversational” copy?

in Copywriting - Nonprofit,News

I often write about how your direct mail letters, emails, web copy, etc. need to be conversational.  Use casual, everyday words.  Have a relaxed, warm and personal tone.  So when I came across the news from the New Oxford Dictionary I decided to have a bit of fun.

I want to help you loosen up your writing.  Consider this a fun exercise to move you one step closer to writing conversational copy.  (By the way, please take a minute to read the disclaimer at the end of this post.)

The New Oxford American Dictionary (Third Edition) is published.  And they’ve added 2,000 pretty crazy words, phrases, new meanings, and abbreviations.  They share some of the additions on their blog such as BFF (Hmm, an acronym is now considered a word. Yikes.), defriend, eggcorn, homesourcing, LBD, parkour, TTYL and on it goes.

If you’re a strict grammarian this stuff must drive you nuts.  I’m not keen on all of it myself.  But I decided to have a bit of fun with this new language and invite you to join in.

Wacky Language Contest

Wacky Language Contest:  Write a 3 – 4 sentence paragraph using the new language.  Choose from the sampling on the Oxford blog and feel free to add in others you know.  Write the wacky paragraph and then also give us a brief translation.  Winner (must be an employee of a charity or professional association to receive the prize) receives a complimentary copy of my ZAPP GUIDE to Thank You Letters.

Although I welcome entries from everyone, only an employee of a nonprofit is eligible to receive the prizeI ask nonprofits to please use their business/organization email (which is kept confidential and safe) along with their organization’s URL when submitting their entry in the comment box below.  This helps me confirm your eligibility for the prize as an employee of a nonprofit.

I’m the judge and it’s purely subjective.  The winner will be the paragraph that strikes me as the most humorous, or most creative, wittiest, etc.  Deadline to enter is Friday, October 1, 2010.  The winner will be announced here in the blog, and I’ll send you an email as well. 

 And your entry can be on a topic related to work, or something else. (I do moderate comments so you won’t see it published on my blog until I’ve read and approved it.  This precaution keeps a LOT of spam off my blog every week.)

Let’s have fun with this.  Submit your entry by commenting to this blog post. 

As an example, here’s my stab at it:

Don’t defriend donors with straightedge copy that sounds inhuman.  Instead channel their feelings and thoughts about your charity.  Using their own words is a great way to chat with gal pals and other supporters.  Just be careful though.  Because misquoting a donor in your fundraising campaigns is akin to a public wardrobe malfunction.  It’s your bad.  But do it well and your boss may reward you with a longer staycation.  TTLY!

Now go ahead and share your Wacky paragraph with us.  Use the comment feature below.  Have fun! 

And whether you enter the contest or not, what do you think of the additions the lexicographers have made to the dictionary?  Should acronyms (e.g., LBD) be considered words and defined as such in a dictionary?

Disclaimer: This exercise is meant to be fun.  I’m not suggesting that your letters and emails to donors or members be written the same as your contest entry.  It was just a wacky way to get you a bit closer to a more relaxed, informal style.   Having said that, there may be times when it is appropriate to use some of these words and phrases, especially in social media.

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September 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm

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Shashi Bhushan Singh September 24, 2010 at 4:44 am

Entry for the contest :-

You and me used to be BFF
Then why you became me-hater when I LMAO seeing your tramp stamp ?
I wonder about the truthiness of your meme when you say TTYL.
I might be a nimrod and you are all that, but I heart you very much.
I cop to my bad. Come back.
– ( Mankind to Happiness. )

Interpretation :-

Mankind and Happiness use to be best friends for time immemorial. (BFF- best friends forever)
But then somewhere mankind did something really silly (metaphor – laughing at someone’s tattoo) to annoy happiness.
Since then , happiness has left our world.
Mankind has tried to be happy , to reach happiness but happiness’s meme (replies) indicate that she is not really interested in us. Happiness keeps avoiding mankind by saying TTYL.

But lately, mankind has accepted his mistake that we have been nimrods (inept) and realized happiness is most important. ( than money, wars, fame etc..)

I cop my bad – Mankind finally accepts its mistakes and requests happiness to come back.

Lets just hope happiness comes back to our world and all suffering, poverty, terrorism – disappears.

Karen Zapp, copywriter September 24, 2010 at 11:18 am

Thanks for your entry Shashi! Very clever.

Karen Zapp, copywriter October 4, 2010 at 11:54 am

The WACKY Language Contest ended on October 1st. And the winner is . . . Shashi Bhushan Singh. Congratulations!

I suspect his quality entry early in the contest may have discouraged other would-be participants. Just a guess based on the creativity of his entry.

As the winner he’ll receive a free copy of my “ZAPP GUIDE on Thank You Letters.” This guide hones your skills for acknowledging and cultivating donors.

Shashi Bhushan Singh October 5, 2010 at 9:01 am

Hi Karen,

Thanks a lot for the prize. I’ve received the ZAPP GUIDE to Thank You Letters. Thanks !
Wish you all the very best.


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