Author Archives: G75 Media

The changing face of freelance motoring journalism

It’s May 2000. A fresh-faced young graduate by the name of Neil Cumins is starting a marketing job in the motor trade, writing press releases and producing a customer magazine. Among the key features being promoted by manufacturers at the time are a four-speed automatic gearbox (Chrysler PT Cruiser), twin airbags (Suzuki Jimny) and electric windows (Vauxhall Astra Coupe). Radio-cassette players were still being fitted in every new BMW 3-Series, and the entry-level Citroën Saxo model didn’t even have power steering.

Fast-forward to May 2020, and even buyers of affordable family cars increasingly take for granted features which would have astonished any freelance motoring journalist two decades ago. Scotland’s current Car of the Year, the Mazda 3, has a head-up display which projects satellite navigation instructions onto its windscreen, while the Ford Fiesta can reverse itself into parallel parking bays only 20 per cent longer than the car itself. Increasing levels of automation enable cars to keep themselves in lane on the motorway, with radar-guided cruise control maintaining a steady gap to the vehicle in front. We may not have fully autonomous vehicles just yet, but the prospect feels increasingly close.

The car’s the star

Keeping up with such rapid progress would be a challenge for any freelance motoring journalist, but it’s a challenge which your humble correspondent has embraced. A 40-year archive of motoring publications and manufacturer brochures fills a six-foot bookcase in the G75 Media office, augmenting an encyclopaedic knowledge of model specifications and technical attributes. As such, every piece of freelance motoring journalism produced by G75 Media is thoroughly fact-checked for accuracy before it’s filed (ahead of deadline, naturally).

Twenty years spent proofreading sales materials and marketing copy (mostly as a freelance motoring journalist) means there’s no risk of any confusion between ABS and EBA, or selectable four-wheel drive being described as permanent. And because G75 Media currently works for motor trade clients on both sides of the Atlantic, we’re equally comfortable talking about PS or HP, hoods or bonnets, NHTSA or Euro NCAP.

Driving up standards

Of course, quality freelance motoring journalism isn’t just about knowing the difference between pushrods and overhead camshafts, or understanding why carbon ceramic discs provide fade-free braking power. A successful freelance motoring journalist needs an instinctive ability to judge a car’s effectiveness and quality – something which can only be achieved with hands-on testing. That’s why the review of the Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain on the Portfolio page of this site highlights the impracticality of thick carpet in the boot of a vehicle designed to tackle rutted fields. It’s also why ride quality is a high priority in any road test review – because who wants to be jiggled around over motorway expansion joints or scarred urban tarmac?

If you need freelance motoring journalism services, or require a freelance motoring journalist to produce copy for your brand, give G75 Media a call or send us an email here. We’ll be happy to assist with any motor trade editorial brief, and provide a competitive quote for motoring journalism in the UK or overseas.

The merits of promoting your business during the lockdown

We are living in historic times. The Coronavirus pandemic has led to the suspension of public life in ways unseen in British history, including restrictions which prevent businesses up and down the land from trading. However, even companies unable to trade are still able to advertise and market themselves online. And promoting your business during the lockdown is particularly important given the unprecedented number of people trapped at home with unlimited internet access, and plenty of free time to surf and browse.

3 – 3 – 0 – 6 – 3 – 3

At some point in the near future, the current state of lockdown will be partially lifted. And very quickly, people will start trying to catch up on everything they’ve missed. As a result, there is likely to be a dramatic upsurge in demand for products and services, as all the things we’ve postponed start happening alongside all the things which would have been occurring at that time anyway. Temporary restrictions on movement and trading haven’t stopped people needing to replace faulty appliances, or negotiate a new mortgage, or choose a new car. A massive backlog is growing across numerous industries, and the months after lockdown are going to be much busier than the months before it in many industries.

This simple fact gives forward-thinking companies an opportunity. By promoting your business during the lockdown, you can position your products, services or brands in consumer minds. You can become a go-to firm when the nation starts tackling everything that’s been neglected and put off. Forward-thinking companies can also extol the virtues of services which are desirable rather than essential – the holidays, the clothing, the spa trips. Because what else is there to do today other than plan how we’ll spend tomorrow? And if finances are tight – as they will be for millions of UK households – brands with compelling sales pitches will be optimally placed to attract available cash.

Search and destroy the competition

The benefits of promoting your business during the lockdown are particularly compelling when you consider search engines. We’re all spending more time online than ever, with Google and Bing acting as gatekeepers to the internet. Positioning your brand towards the top of search results is more important at a time of unprecedented internet traffic than it’s ever been. And the benefits of search engine optimisation tend to last for years. Informative original content won’t just benefit your brand today – it’ll remain a valuable resource which attracts enquiries and custom for years to come.

As a freelance copywriting agency, G75 Media is used to working remotely on behalf of clients. For the last 13 years, we’ve exchanged contracts via email and uploaded content to WordPress. We hold Zoom meetings with opticians in Hampshire, write new car reviews for American consumer websites, and use Trello to manage blog schedules for Ofcom-approved comparison platforms. We can handle content production and copywriting for business of all sizes, from start-ups seeking to establish an online presence through to household-name brands wanting to bolster their market share. And by promoting your business during the lockdown, we’ll ensure it emerges from this frightening and unprecedented period with an optimal online presence.

Don’t put off til tomorrow what you should be doing today. This is the perfect time to boost your SEO, refresh your online presence and assemble a stockpile of content in readiness for normality returning. The latter is especially pertinent, as marketing and PR might be a low priority while trying to rebuild your customer base and dealing with a backlog of orders. Get in touch with G75 Media to discuss how we can help with promoting your business during the lockdown.

Preserving mental health during difficult times

We are currently living under unprecedented professional, personal and social restrictions, whose consequences could take decades to fully understand and repair. For anyone struggling to cope during this oppressive and uncertain time, I’ve published an article with some advice on preserving mental health. You can read it here – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/preserving-mental-health-during-difficult-times-neil-cumins/

The benefits of working from home

At the time of writing, the UK is experiencing the unwelcome advance of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Sporting events are being suspended, festivals are being cancelled, and commuters are nervously applying hand sanitiser while sweating underneath stifling face masks. We’re being encouraged to avoid large public gatherings and refrain from unnecessary travel, while consumers panic-buy toilet roll and shysters try to sell us 49p bottles of antibacterial gel on eBay for £25.

At this stage, it’s impossible to know how far COVID-19 will spread, or how serious its repercussions will be. However, the latest Government advice is to work from home if possible. And that has raised a wider debate about why millions of people struggle through chaotic rush-hours to reach an inconvenient place for an arbitrary time, to sit at a desk and email people sitting six feet away. Accountancy firm KPMG is running a trial where many of its staff work from home on Fridays, to see whether productivity is affected. In fact, there’s a good chance productivity will increase, since people will be committed to making the trial a success. Plus, they’ll feel more energetic and less fatigued without an early-morning commute…

No place like home

It’s a shame that it’s taken the Coronavirus outbreak to make employers question the necessity of making staff sit in an office all day. The benefits of home working certainly aren’t lost on me. Exactly ten years ago, I quit the safety of a full-time job as a property journalist to become a full-time freelance writer, running my fledgling copywriting agency from a spare bedroom in East Kilbride. That didn’t just mean surrendering a guaranteed salary, a pension scheme and a chance to chat about last night’s episode of Homeland while the kettle boiled. It also meant giving up an expensive and frustratingly slow commute into a draughty and noisy office in an industrial estate, and then repeating the process in reverse when I was tired and it was getting dark. And although the ability to dramatically reduce my exposure to airborne pathogens wasn’t a key factor behind establishing G75 Media, avoiding other people’s germs is one of many advantages to working from home.

Of course, some professions lend themselves to home working better than others, and not everyone has the flexibility a freelance writer enjoys. Doctors can’t squirrel themselves away in their spare rooms, though they could potentially make greater use of video calls. Taxi drivers still have to collect passengers, albeit with their windows open and a box of tissues handy. And nobody expects police officers or firefighters to log on remotely. Yet millions of people could base themselves at home for at least part of the working week, from call centre staff to architects. And if they did, they might discover the following benefits:

  1. More time. How many hours would you save by not having to endure ten rush-hour journeys every week? You could spend some of this extra time doing additional work, some of it taking proper breaks from your desk, and the rest enjoying quality time with family and friends.
  2. Less distractions. Office camaraderie can be enjoyable, but small talk and blaring radios become a distraction if you’ve got a deadline to meet. Large offices can be antithetical to productivity, with constant interruptions and background noise. Being based at home may provide greater freedom to concentrate – helping you to be more productive and efficient.
  3. Greater flexibility. The concept of working from 9am to 5pm with a one-hour lunch break seems archaic in today’s 24-7 global culture, yet this 19th century hangover persists through sheer inertia. Many people work better at other times of day, don’t want a full hour for lunch, or would benefit from more flexible working hours due to family commitments.
  4. Better breaks. Isn’t it annoying when you have to wait ten minutes to use the solitary microwave because someone’s cooking a baked potato? At home, you can eat and drink whatever you want, whenever you want. No more stolen milk, no more fixed break times, and no more offending everyone around you as you unwrap an egg mayo baguette.

Same. But different.

Many people are surprised to discover how much of their working week relies on technology, rather than proximity. We’ve all emailed colleagues sitting within a few metres of us, driven to meetings which would have been equally productive as a Skype call, and printed off emails to hand out when simply forwarding the email would have saved paper and ink. Collaborative workplace tools like Slack and Trello make project management easier than the traditional whiteboard-and-weekly-meeting approach, and email remains the finest method of data distribution ever invented.

As a freelance writer, I am typing this blog on a laptop at home, which I could relocate anywhere with a decent WiFi connection. According to Google Analytics, you are probably reading it on a portable device – another laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. And while any of us could potentially contract an airborne virus like COVID-19, my ability to avoid public transport while picking and choosing when I leave the house should reduce my risk of (a) being infected and (b) unwittingly infecting other people.

If you’re an employer reading this, it’s worth considering the extent to which you could permit staff to work from home. If you’re an employee, consider what (if any) parts of your job may be achievable while being based at home, and suggest it to your line manager. And if you want to enjoy the benefits of high-quality content production by an award-winning freelance writer, from blogs and listicles through to opinion pieces like this one, drop me an email or give me a call. You don’t need to arrange a face-to-face meeting to benefit from G75 Media’s copywriting and content production services.

A decade of copywriting excellence

The start of a new decade provides an ideal opportunity for reflection and analysis on the decade just passed. And while 2019 proved to be a turbulent year politically and a disruptive one technologically, it was also an eventful one for writers and journalists. Our industry has changed so much since January 2010 that it’s worth taking a moment to consider how the art of copywriting and journalism has changed since we last welcomed in a new decade…

The changing face of copywriting and journalism
Copywriting and journalism changed almost as much as technology in the 2010s

Putting the word out

Ten years ago, the internet was absent from millions of UK homes, and many people still relied on dial-up connectivity. Websites had already evolved away from early experiments with Comic Sans fonts and animated GIFs, but there was little video content, and photography platforms remained niche. Instead, the written word was king – particularly given the growing importance of search engine optimisation, or SEO.

By the middle of the last decade, websites were experimenting with the potential offered by home broadband connectivity. Parallax scrolling, single-page websites and auto-playing video content became briefly fashionable on many corporate websites. However, 4G’s arrival in 2013 triggered meteoric growth in mobile internet services, which literally and metaphorically rendered flashy (or Flash-y) sites unsuitable for a smartphone. As a result, we came full circle, relying on professionally-written copywriting and journalism to underpin any successful website.

Make it a large one

More recently, Google and Bing have emphasised the importance of long-form content. The days when a 500-word blog provided optimal SEO benefits have passed. And while we’re not going to extend this article to be 5,000-8,000 words long (which search engines increasingly regard as demonstrating authoritative content), long-form copywriting and journalism makes up a growing percentage of G75 Media’s monthly workload.

The last decade also saw the inexorable rise of the blog. Although Blogger debuted in 1999 and WordPress launched in 2003, blogging only really took off towards the end of the Noughties. By 2010, there was huge demand for freelance bloggers, and G75 Media began offering blogging as a service. At the time, IT and technology clients were identifying blog archives as a way of boosting keyword recognition among search engines, and two of G75 Media’s biggest clients still depend on us for weekly blog content.

Another trend which dominated the 2010s was the welcome increase in flexible working. Brands like WeWork have revolutionised the concept of office space, and millions of Britons now work from home either part-time or full-time. Copywriting and journalism are ideal sectors for both freelancing and working from home, since employers can call on specialist writers as and when their services are needed. Many of G75 Media’s clients will contact us once a year or even less frequently, knowing we can quickly and effectively deliver copywriting and journalism to meet any brief.

Goodbye and good riddance

Other trends rose and fell with equal rapidity, such as overseas copywriting firms. Agencies popped up around the world, offering cheap online copywriting for corporate clients. Almost as a rule, these firms delivered fairly dreadful content. Their writers generally spoke English as a second language, their proofreading and editing skills were negligible, and the balance of keywords and long tails (key elements of SEO) was usually wrong. When Google and Bing began downgrading websites with lazily-written content supplied by overseas copy farms, the writing was on the wall – but not on the websites. The phenomenon quickly died out as companies realised it simply isn’t worth paying for cheap copywriting and journalism.

More recently, we have also seen the welcome decline of academic writing websites. These enabled lazy students to outsource dissertation and essay writing to ‘qualified professionals’. Like all respectable content production agencies, G75 Media flatly refused to get involved in this distasteful practice, despite being approached on a number of occasions with unsolicited requests for assistance. Our copywriting services have always been ethical and honest, and they always will be.

Taking care of business

Despite these unwholesome sub-sectors of copywriting and journalism, the internet’s meteoric growth came at a great time for a business which was founded in 2007 as a dedicated copywriting agency. In February 2010, G75 Media’s founder Neil Cumins made the decision to quit his part-time day job as a property journalist and become a full-time business owner, freelance copywriter – and property journalist! Having retained his former estate-agency employer as a client, the process of building a successful copywriting agency could begin.

Today, G75 Media regularly works with clients on three continents, from America to Australia. We employ freelance writers whose areas of expertise dovetail with our client base. We deliver everything from listicles and social media content through to white papers and how-to guides for clients as diverse as manufacturers, optometrists and tourism firms. And as we enter our third decade as a limited company, G75 Media is proud to be a copywriting agency with few peers.

But why stop there? A new decade brings new opportunities, while our greater resources and superior expertise should ensure we’re able to continue growing and expanding throughout the 2020s. We don’t know what the last decade will be referred to as – possibly the Tens or the Teens – but it’s been the making of G75 Media. Here’s to another decade of award-winning copywriting and journalism.

Fake it til you make it?

Copywriting should always be honest, and freelance articles from G75 Media are extensively researched to maximise trust
The philosophy behind fake reviews is the polar opposite of everything G75 Media stands for

The thorny subject of fake reviews has been in the media recently, with allegations about false five-star reviews on Amazon and interviews with self-confessed fake review writers. There has also been a greater focus on falsifying academic records on both sides of the Atlantic, coupled with a crackdown on dissertation writing firms.

Fake content is a topic G75 Media feels very strongly about, since trust is a cornerstone of our copywriting services. Before getting into the specifics of why this matters, it’s important to clarify our position on fake reviews:

  1. We have never sought or published fake reviews for any of our online profiles or accounts. As a result, you’ll occasionally see other copywriting agencies ‘scoring’ more highly than us on review sites, even though a cursory glance at their websites and marketing materials might not suggest they’re the best in the business.
  2. We’ve never written a glowing testimonial that we didn’t wholeheartedly stand by. We rarely review service providers; if we do, it’s because our experience justifies it. If we have criticisms, we tend to address them directly to the company or individual, giving them a reasonable chance to address these issues.
  3. When writing on behalf of clients, we deliberately avoid belittling and bad-mouthing their competitors. Even when a rival brand is clearly falling short of the standards our clients have set, we promote the latter’s achievements rather than denigrating the former. Negative advertising should be left in the 1980s, where it belongs.
  4. We don’t use social media as a steam valve or echo chamber. Like everyone reading this article, we’ve had good and bad client experiences in recent times. Unlike some people, we don’t resort to splashing hyperbolic language over social media platforms. At worst, we’ll discuss any marketing lessons to be learned from high-profile failures.

Our word is our bond

The cynic might wonder why any of this matters. After all, consumers know fake reviews exist. We recognise the temptation to use emotive phrases like “ruined” and “worst ever” to illustrate disappointment or frustration. And it’s hard to escape the fact that copywriting is a cut-throat industry, where earning any form of income is often challenging.

However, some things are more important than boosting your monthly turnover, or filling the working week with projects. Fake reviews are deceitful, and false writing of any kind is morally unjustifiable. If you spend your days writing fraudulent reviews for products and services you’ve never experienced, you’re effectively a professional liar. Anything you subsequently say will be tainted by association, and you’re also making life harder for everyone who still places their trust in online content.

In a virtual world where the senses of touch, smell and taste are non-existent, the written word is all-powerful. Abusing it for short-term corporate gain is as unforgiveable as it is unacceptable. While positive PR and promotional content inevitably only tells one side of the story, at least these stories are rooted in fact. That’s where the true power of written communications comes from, and it’s something G75 Media will continue to champion in every article, blog and promotional feature we produce.

A very merry Christmas from G75 Media

After a strenuous year at the copywriting coalface, G75 Media will be closing its doors tonight. We’ll be returning to action on Thursday January 3rd. In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas and New Year – and get in touch if you’d like any assistance with copywriting, content production, journalism or web copy…

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the G75 Media office...
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the G75 Media office…

G75 Media website now HTTPS

Safe as houses – greater security for G75 Media clients

The G75 Media website has recently gained HTTPS accreditation, protecting site visitors against malicious activity while they’re on our site. After ten years using the standard HTTP protocol, last week’s upgrade reflects our commitment to ensuring everyone can browse our portfolio of published articles (or submit an enquiry about our copywriting services) in complete safety.

HTTPS websites encrypt information before it’s transmitted to the web browsers of individual visitors. This ensures any traffic between our server and the device you’re reading this on is protected against eavesdroppers and cyber-criminals. You’ll often see HTTPS preceding retail or ecommerce web addresses, where financial data is being exchanged and eavesdroppers would have a field day.

Even though our content production and copywriting services are highly celebrated, online criminals probably wouldn’t try to exploit your visit to our site today. Or would they? After all, the G75 Media website was created using the world’s most popular content management platform. Its sheer popularity makes WordPress a favoured target for spam and malware developers. WordPress software plugins are also susceptible to newly-launched malware – known as zero day attacks.

As part of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation, G75 Media has to meet strict standards regarding the storage and management of client data. Elevating our website to HTTPS standard demonstrates our commitment to this process. It also places us ahead of many other content production agencies and media firms, who also lack our extensive client roster. A number of our copywriting agency rivals are still using HTTP, resulting in “Not secure” tabs appearing in Chrome or warning messages flashing up in Firefox. We take your safety a little more seriously.

If you already understand the principles of zero day attacks and end-to-end encryption, you might want to get in touch regarding our technical writing and technology journalism services. But don’t worry if we lost you after “standard protocol”. We’ve got everything secured.

G75 Media and GDPR – keeping your data safe

Later this month, the EU will roll out its General Data Protection Regulation. After four years of development, GDPR will effectively replace the UK’s 1988 Data Protection Act. As such, it will place additional regulatory burdens on companies retaining any client information on file. This can range from the names and email addresses of corporate contacts to bank account details and social media posts.

At G75 Media, we take these responsibilities very seriously. We are preparing for GDPR’s introduction on Monday the 25th, and these are some of the steps we’re introducing to protect and preserve the confidentiality of client data:

• From today, every email we send will contain an invitation to unsubscribe from future correspondence. If you reply with the word ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line, we will immediately delete any contact information we hold relating to you.

• If six months has elapsed since we last worked with you, we will archive any sent or received electronic documentation. Data will be saved on a password-protected USB key with AES 256-bit encryption, which is stored offline in a safe.

• Current documentation and related client data (including email addresses) is stored on a password-protected drive of a desktop computer equipped with sophisticated antivirus software. We do not share client data with anyone, in any circumstances.

• Any historic databases or spreadsheets of contact information we previously held have all been deleted. This ensures any information provided to us by former clients has been securely destroyed.

• If you contact us via telephone, email, post, text message or social media, we will only communicate with you regarding work-related briefs or assignments. We will never send you marketing emails, event invitations or other unsolicited sales missives.

• We’re working towards a paperless office, and we never print out emailed documentation. Any paperwork we do receive is securely stored in a locked building until it’s no longer needed, at which point it’s destroyed in a cross-cut shredder.

We recognise there is a great deal of confusion about GDPR and its effect on small businesses around the UK. As technology bloggers, we have already been commissioned to produce a number of features on GDPR and its impact, so it’s a subject we’re familiar with. However, if you have any concerns about how we use or store client data, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Finally, if you’ve found this page while searching for information on GDPR, G75 Media has produced a number of practical guides on behalf of clients on both sides of the Atlantic. If you’d like content creating for your own company, we’ll be happy to provide you with a quote – in strict confidence, and with full adherence to GDPR regulations! You can get in touch with us here.