outsourcing

How I started up with copywriting as a business #copywriting #writing

Copywriting a very odd term; and there are quite a variety of jobs that it can pertain to, but the most common probably refers to someone who writes “copy” for an advertising agency. Generally, that’s not what I do, though I have written advertising copy. The term “copy” refers to the text as a design element, so I’m not much of a fan of the term – but there doesn’t seem to be a better one available at the moment. Usually, the people I work for just refer to me as “our writer” or “one of our writers,” which is just fine.

What I do is kind of function as a Jan-of-all trades when it comes to whatever needs to be professionally written for a business. This might include image brochures, internal articles, executive speeches and letters, press releases, Website content and scripts for internal videos. I also do quite a bit of editing and consulting for punctuation, grammar and syntax urgencies and sometimes get to do some public relations strategizing. I don’t get a byline and, in fact, don’t always see the finished product because most of the time, what the people I work for really want is something that’s about 90 to 95 percent there. We might go back and forth several times as the drafts progress; but ultimately, my role is finished and the project is theirs to tweak further as they wish and disseminate.

As for how I approach the work that I do, it varies greatly from project to project – but it’s almost always very collaborative – with the people who assign the work, the stakeholders who are interviewed, and sometimes graphic designers and video producers. Usually, I’m given a verbal briefing on what the message is supposed to be and who is the target audience along with background materials to pull from. Sometimes, additional telephone interviews are necessary. But eventually, there’s no choice but to sit down in front of that blank screen and just hope that something comes. That’s because copywriting requires that you write in a voice other than your own. The posts that I do in the career counselling thread just flow naturally because that’s me talking to you. But when you’re writing an article, similar to a feature article in a magazine or newspaper, or an image brochure, you have to almost conjure an entity and listen to what it’s telling you. It’s difficult. You know the idea you want to communicate, you try to imagine the persona that’s speaking through you… and just hope something comes. So far, it has.

As for how I got interested, it was really a matter of survival and of declining opportunities to do anything else that I might have done. My background is in journalism; but I have an autonomous career anchor (see this week’s career counselling post) – and after five years’ covering health and social services for one of our city’s former newspapers, it became obvious that it was time to move on. A year spent as editor of my college newspaper was more than sufficient to reveal that I didn’t want to manage; and reporting the same events year after year was getting old. There were also some other workplace issues that defied attempts at resolution and had, in fact, escalated into a situation that felt like “learned helplessness;” so one day – I calmly walked in, wrote a resignation letter, handed it to my editor – and left.

One of the businesses that I covered, a hospital, offered a position it its public affairs department; but I thought it would be more interesting to free-lance and see what kind of business could be generated on my own. I really liked the idea of working from home. So, over the next five years, I called on local businesses and acquired free-lance projects writing various kinds of communications materials. It was financially challenging and somewhat frustrating having to write on a typewriter; but eventually, I had a portfolio that was sufficient to secure a “copywriting” position with a large and very well-respected organization in our city. After two and a half years, my position was there was eliminated. It was my good fortune that the organization offered many opportunities for me to write as a consultant, so that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 15 years or so.

Jan

How to run a marketing planning workshop #marketing #planning # management

Marketing Planning

The process involves a series of workshops where knowledge and ideas are generated, gaps in understanding acknowledged and actions agreed to acquire the missing information for the following workshop. A marketing template is completed including action plans with clear responsibilities and dates for completion. The process also includes agreement on priorities and specific measurements for success.

At all times the focus is on what we need to understand to increase our sales revenue. Weaknesses and threats must be acknowledged and counter-attacks created. Apparent criticisms should not be taken personally (easier said than done, but important to be aware of). Similarly, criticisms should not be made at a personal level; we are all working toward the same goals. We need to be honest about our individual, group, and organizational strengths and weaknesses.

For agreed cases we will try to truncate the process, to focus on immediate market planning concerns. Generally there is a need to focus on key potential unique selling points and try to get a clear understanding of how to emphasise these and raise demand, exploit strengths and counter-attack the competition.

The workshop(s) will ideally cover:

  1. A clear understanding of our internal strengths and weaknesses, external opportunities and threats. This will include assessment of knowledge, skills and capabilities, internal influencing factors, strategic intent, alliances and current/past client experience.
  2. The specific market for our type of products; potential by segment.
  3. The general and specific competition for our product range; current and future; their strengths and weaknesses; where are they going and why; how do we compare?
  4. Future scenario focus – what are the implications of possible market/competitor/client changes? What are the risks of our taking specific approaches? What contingencies should we set in place?

The devil in the detail – Therefore… exactly what is our value proposition? Exactly how do we communicate this? To whom? Through which medium?

Market Planning Process - Workshop Scheme

Market Planning Process – Workshop Scheme

Half of £2bn NHS cash injection spent on outsourced care providers #outsourcing #NHS

Last year £901 million of the cash earmarked for front-line services by George Osborne was used to buy care from private and other non-NHS providers, according to the Financial Times. Research by the Health Foundation showed £800 million was spent on purchasing the same kind of care from NHS trusts. The think tank said the figures showed NHS providers have not had the capacity to deal with rising demand – with campaigners saying outsourcing was a “neither fit nor acceptable” way to plug funding gaps.

“The process of privatising the NHS has already begun,” wrote campaign group NHS Million on twitter in response to the news.

Alan Taman, speaking for campaign groups Keep Our NHS Public and Doctors for the NHS, said there had always been some level of outsourcing by the health service “where it was the best use of public money to do so,” such as for cataract operations. “But what is neither fit nor acceptable is the systematic use of outsourcing as a way of addressing chronic shortfalls in service triggered by years of under-funding,” he said.

The elderly

  • We acknowledge that there are pressures on the health service, there are always extra pressures on the NHS in the winter, but we have the added pressures of the ageing population and the growing complex needs of the population,  Mrs May told Parliament.
  • Waits of over 12 hours in AE among elderly people have more than doubled in two years, according to the latest figures from NHS Digital. The RCP said Government investment was needed to match the demand placed on the health service by the ageing population with the resources to meet it.
  • Pressures in social care are pushing more people into our hospitals and trapping them there for longer, said the letter.
  • Without urgent investment, the NHS will fail to live up to this responsibility this winter.

Patients going to AE instead of seeing their GPs

  • The Health Secretary has called for a “honest discussion with the public about the purpose of AE departments”, saying that around a third of AE patients were in hospital unnecessarily.
  • Mr Hunt told Radio 4’s Today programme the NHS now had more doctors, nurses and funding than ever, but explained what he called “very serious problems at some hospitals” by suggesting pressures were increasing in part because people are going to AEs when they should not.
    He urged patients to visit their GP for non-emergency illnesses, outlined plans to release time for family doctors to support urgent care work, and said the NHS will soon be able to deliver seven-day access to a GP from 8am to 8pm.
  • But doctors struggling amid a GP recruitment crisis said Mr Hunt’s plans were unrealistic and demanded the Government commit to investing in all areas of the overstretched health service.

Simon Stevens, head of NHS England

  • Reports that “key members” of Mrs May’s team used internal meetings to accuse Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, of being unenthusiastic and unresponsive have been rejected by Downing Street.
  • Mr Stevens has allegedly rejected claims made by Ms May that the NHS had been given more funding than required, according to The Times.
  • The newspaper reported the Prime Minister’s staff have been irritated at Mr Stevens’ “political” interventions, including urging ministers to pay for social care by cutting pensioner benefits.
    Addressing the claims about Downing Street staff, a Number 10 source said: “We don’t recognise any of this”, while a separate source described the claims as “nonsense”.
  • Mr Stevens will appear before the House of Commons public accounts committee this afternoon to respond to questions of whether the NHS is sufficiently funded amid calls of a crisis from doctors and leading medical bodies.

Previous health policy, not funding

  • In an interview with Sky News’s Sophy Ridge, Ms May acknowledged the NHS faced pressures but said it was a problem that had been “ducked by government over the years”.
  • She refuted the claim that hospitals were tackling a “humanitarian crisis” and said health funding was at record levels.
    “We asked the NHS a while back to set out what it needed over the next five years in terms of its plan for the future and the funding that it would need,” said the Prime Minister.
  • “They did that, we gave them that funding, in fact we gave them more funding than they required… Funding is now at record levels for the NHS, more money has been going in.”
  • But doctors accused Ms May of being “in denial” about how the lack of additional funding provided for health and social care were behind a spiralling crisis in NHS hospitals.

Target to treat all AE patients within four hours

  • Mr Hunt (the former health secretary) was accused of watering down the flagship target to treat all AE patients within four hours.
  • The Health Secretary told MPs the promise – introduced by Tony Blair’s government in 2000 – should only be for “those who actually need it”.
  • Amid jeers in the Commons, Mr Hunt said only four other countries pledged to treat all patients within a similar timeframe and all had “less stringent” rules.

But Mrs May has now said the Government will stand by the four-hour target for AE, which says 95 per cent of patients must be dealt with within that time frame.

No one

  • Mr Hunt was accused of “hiding” from the public eye following news of the Red Cross’s comments and didn’t make an official statement for two days.
  • He was also filmed refusing to answer questions from journalists who pursued him down the street yesterday to ask whether he planned to scrap the four-hour AE waiting time target.
    Sky News reporter Beth Rigby pressed the Health Secretary on his position on the matter, saying “the public will want to know, Mr Hunt”.
  • “Sorry Beth, I’ve answered questions about this already,” replied Mr Hunt.
  • “But you didn’t answer questions on this. You said it was over-interpreted in the House of Commons and you didn’t want to water it down. Is that what you’re saying?” said Ms Rigby.
  • “It’s very difficult, because how are we going to explain to the public what your intention is, when you change your position and then won’t answer the question, Mr Hunt”. But the Health Secretary maintained his silence until he reached his car and got in.

The Health Foundation report also found that £1 in every £8 of local commissioner’s budgets in England is now spent on care provided by non-NHS organisations.

Claims that the NHS turned to private providers as it could not cope with overwhelming demand itself comes as head of NHS England Simon Stevens prepares to deliver a progress report on his five-year reform plans, reported the Financial Times. Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The public will rightly be alarmed that £900 million was spent treating patients in the private sector when our frontline services remain in desperate need of increased funding.” “Labour always warned that the Tory NHS reorganisation that no one wanted would mean taxpayers money flowing to the private sector and away from the NHS frontline. It’s a disgrace and Labour will reverse this Tory privatisation agenda.” Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said rising demand for emergency care meant “NHS providers haven’t had the capacity to deliver planned care and patients had to be diverted outside the NHS.

  • “NHS hospitals were left squeezed by sharply rising drug and staff costs with little additional funding.The result was big deficits that had to be covered by raids on investment budgets.
  • “The health service needs to plan better for emergency demand, fund emergency care fairly and make sure it gets the best possible price for care provided outside the NHS.”
  • The Department of Health said the report simply showed the NHS was judging how best to deliver care and and spends less than 10 per cent of its budget on independent providers.
  • A spokesman said: “This report simply shows the NHS is making clinical judgments about delivering high-quality care for patients.
  • “The truth is that for many years the independent sector has made a contribution to helping the NHS meet demand, now amounting to less than eight pence in every pound the NHS spends.”

Theresa May told Parliament last month the NHS “is not for sale and it never will be” in response to concerns the health service could form part of a post-Brexit trade deal between America and Britain.

Labour had warned a rushed trade deal between the UK and US could become “a Trojan horse for NHS privatisation”, with insurers and private health companies given the opportunity to provide NHS services.

This article is a summary from the independent