How to Make the Most of the ProCopywriters Conference

You may have noticed that the ProCopywriters Conference is taking a slightly different approach for 2020. Last year’s attendees may recall running around London’s Barbican Centre with lanyards swinging. This year, we’re taking in the wisdom of the industry’s finest at home. In our pyjamas.

What’s on at the 2020 ProCopywriters Conference?

If you’ve not signed up yet, there’s still time. ProCopywriters members are entitled to a discount, but remember – the conference is for everyone. Whether you work for yourself or write copy in-house, there’s plenty to learn over the course of the day.

Register for the ProCopywriters Conference here >

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be sent a link to the Attendify app. Here you can pick up Zoom links for the talks, chat to others, share photos, and take part in polls throughout the day. It all kicks off at 9am, but there’ll be time to change out of your dressing gown.

Rishi Dastidar welcomes us with a poem

Following a brief introduction from David McGuire at Radix Communications, brand strategist Rishi Dastidar kicks off the proceedings with a little light poetry.

Rishi’s also shared his tips with us on how to get more from the conference:

Listen out for the unexpected. How do you do that? Precisely – so you’ll have to be alert. I guarantee you will hear a phrase, a word, an image that will unlock something for you. Just be open to it arriving at some point.

What makes you unique?

Try saying that after a few beers. Or on a full stomach: this post-breakfast session from Francesca Catanuso talks about marketing our value proposition. A communications scientist, Francesca will share examples from Marie Kondo to Andre the Giant at 9:25.

Short and snappy

Have you seen ProCopywriters’ 10-second tips this week? Jackie Barrie tells us about short copy below.

At 10:20, content strategist Relly Annett-Baker puts microcopy into context, guiding us on the importance of small snippets for apps and sites. Less is more, kids.

For the geeks and geekettes

Taking us into the first break is Sandra Wu, a self-confessed ‘geekette’ at Blinkist. This one’s for the nerds, and it’s all about testing copy, designs and layouts to convert your traffic.

If I know a full-day event like this is coming, I make a clear plan for the next day the night before. I jot down three to four to-dos on my calendar, so that I can get right to it first thing in the morning. I also keep reminding myself why I’m doing something and imagine how it’ll make me feel once the task is completed.

Ready to get back to it? Gill Andrews, who’s given us her tips above, will share her three-step approach to checking your copy at 12:30. But not before we hear from Natalie Narh. A social content creative at Ogilvy UK, Natalie is here to tackle perhaps one of the most thought-provoking subjects of the day: diversity.

At 11:50, she’ll advise us on how to be truly diverse in our storytelling – not just peppering copy with slang and jargon, but immersing ourselves in different cultures.

Keep it simple, stupid

Isn’t WeTransfer just a lifesaver? This is surely thanks to its simplicity, a topic that copywriter Robyn Collinge will discuss before lunch. Join her at 1:30pm as she talks through examples of simplicity in the WeTransfer newsletter.

Robyn tells us: “Copywriting can be a lonely job at the best of times. Throw in a global pandemic and I don’t know about you, but the thought of spending the day with a bunch of brilliant minds (who actually understand what I do!) sounds like a bloody hoot. Looking forward to learning some new tricks and getting to know you all!”

(Keep feeling) fascination

Heads up to fans of The Human League. Following on from his Digital Diagnostic, Eddie Shleyner talks us through the “single most important copywriting skill” at 2:00. This one’s all about fascinations, or, as Eddie calls them – the “most powerful copywriting technique you’ve never heard of.”

Go to everything. We’re not in a big conference venue with lanyards, so it’ll be tempting to let a few things go by while you put a wash on and take the dog out. The point of a conference is that you pick up bits of magic where you’re not expecting it. Go to everything.

Wise words here from Honor Clement-Hayes, whose rallying cry to banish perfectionism will lead us into our second coffee break. In a no-holds-barred attack on the “perfectionism disease”, Honor will talk us through the dangers of wasting time worrying.

Shifting the spotlight

In our post-caffeine buzz, Jane Evans will kick things off at 3:50 with her talk on ‘Uninvisibility’. After noticing the distinct lack of women aged 50 and above in the advertising industry, Jane decided to take a stand. She launched the Uninvisibility Project to give midlife women the acknowledgement they deserve.

Let’s get personal

Rounding off the day at 4:15, Kira Hug (of the ProCopywriters Portfolio Clinic fame) talks us through adding personality to your copy. How can you keep your copy individual in a world of ever-growing competition? Kira’s worked with Estée Lauder to name but one, so she’ll show you the ropes.

From 5pm it’s time for desk drinks and networking, or gin o’clock in my lingo. (See what I did there?)

Make the most of your day

Virtual events might not be the same as running around conference venues, but they’re no less valuable. They’re also pretty handy if you’re a bit of an introvert, which as I’ve discovered, is quite common for writers!

Make sure you keep your finger on the pulse with the Attendify app. Here we’ll be sharing polls on topics like what grinds writers’ gears, plus pictures of our four-legged friends.

And if you don’t believe me, take it from the experts:

  • “Keep the networking vibe alive with the app. Connect to new people and send direct messages. There’s so much value in new contacts, regardless of whether or not we meet them in person.” – Deanna Bates, Events Marketer at ProCopywriters


  • “Make hand-written notes rather than typed notes, as research shows you’re more likely to remember that way, even if you never look at them again. Don’t try to do *everything* speakers recommend, or else you’ll do nothing. Instead, aim for a maximum of three action points and be happy if you only act on one – the one that will make most difference to you.” – Jackie Barrie, Writing Without Waffle


  • “It sounds simple but it’s harder than we think – consciously try to keep an open mind throughout the day, and you’ll be more likely to remember ideas and methods you’re not particularly familiar with!” – Natalie Narh, Content Creative at Ogilvy


  • “Try to switch off from your other tasks and soak up as much of the live action as you can. It can be tempting to be ‘getting on with other things’ with the event being on Zoom, but this is a chance to really learn some good stuff from some great people, and to just focus on your own development for once. Those days are hard to find!” – Jo Watson, A Good Write Up


  • “Treat it like a Netflix binge – get comfy and have lots of snacks!” – Jane Evans, The Uninvisibility Project

Look forward to seeing you there.

Katie Lingo
by Katie Lingo
8th October 2020