This post was written on 19 Sep 2011 and is filed under Uncategorized.

Copywriting with a Bite

What Can You Learn from Interview Tactics?

There are two kinds of masters of the interview.

On one hand you have the Oprahs and Barbara Walters…s of the world. Like a succubus, the female demons who seduce men with their charms and then steal their soul, these master interviewers know how to manipulate interviewees to get exactly what they want. A smile. A soothing comment. Empathy. AND NOW THEY RIP OUT YOUR INTESTINES. The master interviewer guides you into delivering the juice. If you cry in the process, even better.

On the other hand you have the master interviewees. They might have a natural flair for the interview game, or they may have picked up their skills via expensive media training. Either way, they know how to work the interview in their favour. They probably have one to three key messages they want to project. One of their greatest tools: sound bites.


copywriting tips soundbites


Pick-up Lines

Sound bites are the little nuggets that DEFINE an interview. In an interview intended for research purposes, the sound bites will be the only quotes worked into a finished article or on-air report. In an interview that is a report unto itself (i.e. written up as a Q&A or aired 60 Minutes style), the sound bites are the pieces that will be pulled out and highlighted. You may see the same eight seconds run 10,000 times in previews, in promotional material, in after-the-fact commentary.

Master interviewees ensure they have powerful sound bites, nuggets created specifically to be picked up.

Treat your copywriting like the interview’s cutting room. As writers we would like to believe that readers soak in our beautifully crafted words from start to finish – being wooed by every detail, carried forward with a perfectly structured argument, basking in the glory of the narrative.

They don’t.

Readers skim. People read novels. When it comes to magazines, newspapers, webpages, sales letters, brochures – they skim. If you’re lucky, they’ll at least skim starting at the beginning and moving linearly towards the end. No guarantees. Eye tracking maps indicate that readers bounce around all over the place.


Create Sound Bites for Your Copy

Craft virtual sound bites positioned throughout your copy. These are the nuggets you want the reader to pick up. These virtual ‘sound bites’ are short, sharp lines that stand out for one or more of the following reasons:

1.  Shock and Awe – Say something controversial. Say something surprising. Say something unexpected.
2.  Music to Your Ears – Say something with a ring to it. Maybe it rhymes. Or it’s got a rhythm. It could be a twist on a well-known phrase.
3.  Syntax Error – Say it in an unfamiliar way. Yoda-speak is a good example. ‘Unfamiliar’ doesn’t have to mean bizarre though. Weird can work, but you can also wordsmith your statement in a way that is above and beyond normal speech. Read up on all the famous rhetorical devices and implement these when appropriate in your copy.
4.  Repetition – Think of your sound bite as the chorus of a song. Flog it. Flog it. Flog it again. Martin Luther King did this to legendary effect in his “I have a dream” speech.

If you want your readers to bite, you need to give them a bite. Bonus prize: these nuggets can generate buzz of their own. If you’re lucky, they will be picked up in tweets, in the blogosphere, by the media, by your customer base, or as a full-fledged pop culture meme. Get your gold nuggets ready.


(If you liked this post, be sure to look at our Top 8 Copywriting Tips.)


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