The Wild West of the Writing World

A few years ago, I was at a garden supply store in search of gloves.

I noticed one wall was covered in pink — pink trowels, pink shovels, pink knee-boards, pink seed packets, pink gloves, and so forth.

Naturally, I thought of breast cancer. And sure enough, the tags for each pink product had a tiny line that said, “In Support of Breast Cancer.”

But that was it. There was no information about how the company was supporting breast cancer. No donation numbers, no contest dates, not even a website where I could go to learn more.

I doubted the credibility of the campaign and left the store without making a purchase.

I suspected the company was “pink-washing” — selling pink just like every other company with pink products dedicated to breast cancer research — but without any real commitment.

Or maybe they just didn’t know what they were doing.

After all, cause marketing is kind of the Wild West of communications right now. Maybe that company was fully dedicated to the breast cancer mission and had paired up with a nonprofit and was donating money to the cause.

But they weren’t communicating any of this. There was no transparency to their efforts — no way for me, the consumer, to gauge how my purchase might help cure breast cancer.

Transparency — through well-written copy — is vital in the cause marketing industry. And the only way to be transparent is to communicate.

That’s why highly-skilled writers are so essential to cause campaigns. The best campaign will flop if it doesn’t explain what’s being done in support of a cause, how, and why.

That means sharing details. Like who’s involved in a partnership, and what role they play.

Other details are just as essential — like telling a consumer exactly what they have to do to trigger a donation, and how long they have to do it, and whether there’s a cap on what the campaign partners are willing to give.

Beyond that, you have to know how to write with heart. Because writing for the cause industry means knowing how to tap key emotions in your prospects beyond fear and greed. Instead, you might write to a prospect’s sense of compassion … or goodwill … or disgust … or even obligation.

Michael Masterson calls this the Core Emotional Complex — when you can draw out subtle feelings and desires that prompt someone to act. And that takes a skilled writer.

I think that’s why there’s so much intrinsic reward in writing for this market. Copywriters are the missing link between organizations committed to good works and the consumers who can make or break those efforts.

That’s because writing for the cause marketing industry is an art form, like any other writing specialty. And it’s one I’ve refined over the past few years as I’ve worked on different cause campaigns.

But now I need help.

With few writers who know what they’re doing, there's a huge demand in this area. I’m juggling more opportunities than I can handle.

So, I wrote down what I’ve learned over the years of working on cause campaigns, collaborating with fellow Cause Marketing Specialist, Megan Tyson (whom I admire and adore … partly because she’s a brilliant cause strategist, partly because she’s my sister).

Megan and I co-wrote Copywriting for a Cause: How to Profit as a Writer and Make a Difference in the World.

It's our chance to share industry-specific knowledge about a field that fuels projects designed to improve the world.

Here’s how you can join us.

What cause campaigns have you noticed lately? Tell me here.

Copywriting for a Cause

Copywriting for a Cause: How to Profit as a Writer and Make a Difference in the World

In today’s market, consumers expect businesses to do well while doing good. They want companies to be good citizens. That means businesses need copywriters who understand how to write for a cause. Learn More »

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Published: September 12, 2012

2 Responses to “The Wild West of the Writing World”

  1. Thank you for contributing this article.

    I really enjoyed reading it.

    Advertising has reached its nadir as far as appealing to the baser emotions are concerned.

    In other words, we need to move past the tendency for materialism and consumerism.

    The world economy is in a state of depression and people are out of jobs and suffering. We have made a mess of our environment and natural disasters are the real wave of the future.

    Cause marketing will allow us to address issues that so far have been out of our reach. Our world is crying for attention: we need to identify problems and find solutions on a global scale.

    Archan Mehta

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