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This site is currently under construction. We are, however, pleased to say that the SMU 102 Digital Copywriting Unit is now open. We've also added Marketing Principles and an Intro to Public Relations. Our Content Marketing Unit is currently in development.

SMU 102 - Session 2: Copywriting elements

An example of copywriting - Mozilla copywriting

Purpose/Aim of this session

In this session you will be exploring the different elements, or parts, that make effective copy. From headlines to subheadings to paragraphs and calls to action - each copywriting element serves a specific function. Each one has a specific purpose. And every copywriting element has a relationship with all of the other copywriting components.

Understanding the function and relevance of each copywriting element will support your progress in planning, developing and writing effective branding copy.

Learning Aims for this session:

  • You will explore the constituent parts of - and relationship between - the various elements of copy
  • You will investigate how copy elements create a Buying Environment - and understand why this is important
  • You will acquire the skills to apply a basic psychological approach in copywriting, in the form of seeds of curiosity
  • You will continue to map the connections between brand messaging and copywriting through the Logical Progression concept

Learning Outcomes for this session:

At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Articulate, describe and explain the connections between copywriting and branding
  • Identify and explain the constituent copywriting elements, including their individual functions in creating effective copywriting flow
  • Judge the effectiveness of the buying environment in 'real world' copy pieces
  • Produce effective copy samples for your portfolio

How this Session Works:

  1. Read through the Overview that accompanies this session. This provides an overall context for the session
  2. Work your way through the items on the Preparatory section that accompanies this session
  3. Listen to the Lecture that accompanies this session
  4. Work your way through the branding scenarios in the "Scenario" tab. Scenarios are practical activities to develop your critical thinking and apply your knowledge to a specific component of copywriting
  5. Work your way through the template in the "Template" tab. The template will support you as you take the first steps in developing your own brand messaging copy
  6. You can browse through some carefully selected material in the "Reading Room" tab. These materials will build upon your knowledge of copywriting

SMU 102 Session 2 Study Activities

  • Overview
  • Preparatory Activities
  • Lecture
  • Scenarios
  • Template
  • Reading Room

image representing copywriting

The written word has tremendous power to persuade, to motivate, to sell. Even in our multimedia age, it's  what we read that moves us the most.

There are countless blog posts and website that tell us what the elements of copywriting are. The majority, however, don't explain why these writing elements are so critically important in producing great branding copy. Nor do they really explain the benefits of using them.

Your key take-away from this session is to understand that these elements exist for a reason. It gives you the context and the background for these reasons.  If there wasn't a need for these reasons, they wouldn't continue to be used by professional copywriters - and used to such great effect.

Think of copywriting elements like the components that make a car operational. If you run out of oil, run out of gas, if there's no water in the radiator or if the spark plugs become gunked up - your car simply won't work. In other words, your car is dead in its tracks. Copywriting elements like headings, subheading, paragraph headers, taglines (and more !) improve the function of your brand copy - and makes it not only perform better, they make your copy work at on a very basic level.

This session is designed to teach you the key techniques needed to write great marketing copy, including:

  • how to structure your sentences and paragraphs for the greatest impact
  • words that work – words to avoid
  • the crucial elements you need to include to get readers to respond.

By the end of the session, you should be able to plan effective copy production for all kinds of media – from websites to printed direct response ads.

Read More
  1. Before we delve into working with the various copywriting elements, watch the video below. Creativity is an important, albeit intangible, copywriting element. And, like any teacher, we want you to enter this realm with confidence. We're not just encouraging you to be creative - we want you to give yourself permission to be creative. Face your fear of writing. Which is the central message of the video below.

  2. Read Barnett, D. and Verney, E. 2009. Copywriting Is Not a Gift!: Five key steps to getting your message across.., Employment Law Services Ltd, October 2009.

  3. Albrighton, T. 2009. How to write compelling calls to action, ABC Copywriting, 7 September 2009.

  4. Albrighton, T. 2010. How to write a company tagline, ABC Copywriting, October 2010.

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The video lectures for this session cover the topic of the various elements of copywriting.

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Scenario 1

The Scenario below is an exploratory activity designed to aid applying your understanding of the various elements of copywriting.

SMU102 Session 2 Scenario 1 - Identifying Some Basic Copywriting Elements by SocialMediaU-USA

Scenario 2

The Scenario activity below is designed for you to directly apply an understanding of the various elements of copywriting to a specific piece of copy you have been developing.

SMU102 Session 2 Scenario 2 - Applying Basic Copywriting Elements by SocialMediaU-USA

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The template for this session has been designed to help structure and produce initial copy for your own brand, a client's brand or the copy you will be producing for your final copywriting project. This is copy that you will be using throughout this unit's sessions. So make sure you keep copies and keep them in a safe place that's easy for you to access.

SMU102 Session 2 Template - Using Copywriting Elements by SocialMediaU-USA

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The Reading Room for this session provides carefully selected resources for you to further explore copywriting concepts, elements, issues and practice.

While this reading will develop a deeper understanding of the concepts covered in this session, it is not mandatory.

Bly, R. W. 2005. The Copywriter's Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Copy that Sells, 3rd Edition, Owl Books, New York.

Denny, R. 2003. Communication with Clients: Creating Intelligibility*, The Collaboration of Anthropologists and Designers in the Product Development Industry, Chapter 2, S. Squires and B.Byrne, eds. Westport, CT: Greenberg, 2003.

Jakobson, R. 1980. The Framework of Language, Michigan Studies in the Humanities.

Lakoff, G. and Johnsen, M. 2003. Metaphors we live by,The University of Chicago press, London.

Maslen, A. 2010. The Copywriting Sourcebook: How to write better copy, faster - for everything from ads to websites, Marshall Cavendish Business, London.,d.aWw

Mick, D. G. 1986. Consumer Research and Semiotics: Exploring the Morphology of Signs, Symbols, and SignificanceJournal of Consumer Research, Vol 13., September 1986, pp. 196 - 213.

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