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What Corporate Writers and Editors are researching ... in the news:

Staff satisfaction affects company performance. Companies with high levels of staff satisfaction perform better financially. The study examined the effect of staff satisfaction on corporate performance using employees' online reviews of where they work. University of East Anglia, Norwich Business School. Economic Letters

Strong friendships in the workplace reduce conflict. When employers foster an office environment that supports positive, social relationships between women coworkers, especially in primarily male dominated organizations, they are less likely to experience conflict among women employees. Washington University. Organization Science

Tech company video ads still dominated by white males. Consumer tech companies that are serious about attracting more women and people from minority groups into their workforce might want to revisit the video advertisements featured on their websites. Although these ads do not explicitly discourage women and girls, or people of color, from pursuing the fields of computer science, they do little to present technologies as accessible to those who do not fit the dominant white male idea. Gender Issues

Ethical business practice can flourish in nations with serious corruption problems. Investors and the public are more willing to support and pay for ethical goods and business trading in places where it is scarce. Companies operating in this way can stand out if they reject and make a stand against unethical behaviour, and consumers will support them. Professor William Harvey said: "It isn't enough just to behave ethically. Companies also need to get the support of the public and investors for their actions to gain a good reputation. University of Exeter Business School, China Europe International Business School and Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Virginia. Harvard Business Review and Journal of Management Studies

Meaningful work not created - only destroyed - by bosses: Bosses play no role in fostering a sense of meaningfulness at work - but they do have the capacity to destroy it and should stay out of the way. The research indicates that, rather than being similar to other work-related attitudes, such as engagement or commitment, meaningfulness at work tends to be intensely personal and individual, and is often revealed to employees as they reflect on their work. Thus what managers can do to encourage meaningfulness is limited, though what they can do to introduce meaninglessness is unfortunately of far greater capacity. Dr Madden adds: "Organizations that succeed in this are more likely to attract, retain, and motivate the employees they need to build sustainably for the future, and to create the kind of workplaces where human beings can thrive." University of Sussex and the University of Greenwich. MIT Sloan Management Review

Gaps in advertising and PR - Blurred boundaries between advertising and public relations professions due to new roles in social media raise the question of whether educators can adequately prepare their students for a career in those growing fields. "Educators need to address the deficiencies identified in this study and find ways to build these skills and competencies in their courses," said Marlene S. Neill, Ph.D., assistant professor of journalism, public relations and new media. Baylor University. Journal of Advertising Education

How to make Web advertising more effective - Every day, users are bombarded with animated ads across the Web, and companies fight to cut through the clutter. New research pinpoints one attribute online ads should have to influence consumers' perceptions of a new product--and their willingness to pay for it. Consumers who see a Web ad in which the product changes direction while moving across the screen are more likely to perceive the product as innovative. "Psychologically, we don't expect inanimate objects to be able to change directions," says co-author Arun Lakshmanan, PhD, assistant professor of marketing in the UB School of Management. "As a result, when we see something do that in an advertisement, it stands out as atypical and causes us to make judgments instantaneously about the product's novelty, without even thinking about it." "The majority of new products are brand extensions or products with incremental changes from previous versions," Lakshmanan says. "For marketers, particularly those working with smaller companies and low-budget brands, kinetic property offers a robust, subtle and powerful mechanism to communicate product innovation and influence consumer attitudes." University at Buffalo School of Management. Journal of Marketing

Can EEGs predict success better than surveys? A new study finds that brain activity visible through EEG measures may be a much cheaper and more accurate way to predict the commercial success of movies. "Several decades of research have shown that many important mental processes occur below the surface of consciousness, leaving people very limited in their ability to predict their own future behavior," write authors Maarten A. S. Boksem and Ale Smidts of Erasmus University. "This study suggests that neuroimaging technologies such as EEG machines can reveal information that is not obtainable  through conventional marketing surveys." Journal of Marketing Research

Location-based ads - Location-based advertisements may pinpoint customers geographically, but often miss the target because customers may find the ads creepy and intrusive. To overcome this negativity, the researchers suggest advertisers invite their customers to help tailor ads they might receive. While being physically close to a product or shop improved attitudes about local advertisements on their mobile devices, customers felt significantly better about both the advertisement and location-based advertising when they had a hand in selecting the ads, said S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory. Computers in Human Behavior

How to trust what your customers say about your brand - Marketers would love to get inside the consumer brain. And now they can. Researchers are using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see if what people say about brands matches what they are actually thinking. The researchers scanned the study's participants in an fMRI machine while they viewed logos of well-known brands such as Apple, Disney, Ikea, BMW, and Nestle. After they finished the scan, the participants then took a survey that asked about the characteristics that they associated with each brand. Next, using a set of data mining algorithms, the researchers used the participants' brain activity to predict the survey responses. Although conducting fMRI studies on a routine basis is still likely to be cost prohibitive for most companies, the current findings point to a future where marketers can directly validate customer insights in ways that were not possible before. University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business. Journal of Marketing Research

Is quality or cost more essential? The international market. As businesses move into international markets, they often do so with a "one size fits all" customer satisfaction strategy. But factors as basic as how consumers prioritize pricing and quality can differ sharply across cultures and economic systems. Success will depend in part on understanding these perceptions across cultures. "A company's success abroad will depend in part on understanding how people of different cultures sometimes perceive value very differently," write authors Forrest V. Morgeson III (American Customer Satisfaction Index), Pratyush Nidhi Sharma (University of Delaware) and G. Tomas M. Hult (Michigan State University). Journal of International Marketing

For marketers - A sad TV drama comes to conclusion, fading to black as music swells, and leaving the audience emotionally torn about the future of the main characters. Suddenly, the TV cuts to a peppy commercial and viewers are faced with the relentless cheer of an insurance spokesperson pitching their latest money saving product. This is a common occurrence in today's prime time-driven entertainment culture, but new research shows that this juxtaposition of emotions can leave TV viewers puzzled at the swing in content and emotion, so much so that these potential consumers may ignore the ad altogether and will be unlikely to recall the advertiser. Columbia Business School Professor of marketing Keith Wilcox calls this phenomenon the "deactivating" emotion and shows why marketers and ad buyers might want to opt for ads that are only moderately energetic as opposed to ads with boundless energy and pep. The paper, titled "Consumers' Response to Commercials: When the Energy Level in the Commercial Conflicts with the Media Context," was co-authored by Nancy M. Puccinelli of Oxford University's Saďd Business School. Columbia Business School

Better social media techniques - Due to the ever-increasing number of people using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, businesses and organizations, such as professional sports teams, are expanding their marketing and communication efforts to engage people with their brands through those sites. Researchers found that the more individual teams released original content from their Twitter accounts, such as score updates or player profiles, the more followers they gained and engagement they initiated. The researchers say their findings could provide guidance for many businesses struggling with how to use social media. University of Missouri, Louisiana State University. Journal of Sport Management

Advertising and marketing pros - Not all women will buy products because the models in the advertisements are thin. In fact, marketers and advertisers who default to the "thin ideal" -- the belief that thinner is better -- could be alienating up to 70 percent of their audience, said James Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing.  "The current 'thin sells' fixation is a gross oversimplification of how women respond to advertising," the study said, adding that previous research has shown that only 5 percent of women could possibly achieve the body size depicted in typical advertisements. Baylor University. Atlantic Marketing Journal

Do CEOs deserve all the attention they get? Media interest in CEOs has soared to stratospheric heights in recent years, with the likes of Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs becoming household names. But do corporate top dogs deserve all that attention? New research shows that a CEO does indeed often have an outsized effect on firm performance. "We can place the CEO effect at about 25 percent today, which means that the chief executives typically account for a little more than a fourth of a firm's overall profit," said Tim Quigley, an assistant professor of management. University of Georgia Terry College of Business. Strategic Management Journal

Marketing and PR Focus - Corporate communicators and marketing teams are often in direct competition to be in the "C-suite" - the coveted boardroom seat. "So few seats are available that it's often an 'either/or' for PR and marketing," said study author Marlene Neill, Ph.D., assistant professor of journalism, public relations and new media. The research indicates that both groups' focus on the C-suite, with members that include chief executive officers and chief financial officers, is too narrow. "Everybody wants more power and influence, but "strategic issues arise at the division level as well as executive-level committees," Neill said. "The executives' interviews indicated that corporate communications and marketing do supply distinct and essential services that justify their membership in executive-level decision teams," Neill said. While PR executives in corporate environments generally manage social media, reputation, internal communications and government relations, marketing executives had influence due to their expertise in market research and branding. "PR had a bigger role with companies handling crises and reputation, while marketing was more dominant when the company was focused on branding and sales," Neill said. She suggested that both groups need to build internal relationships with their colleagues to educate them on the contributions they can provide. Baylor University. Journal of Communication Management

Double-digit growth for firms creating own online communities. Engaging consumers through online social networks is an increasingly mission-critical activity for major brands. While some firms host their own brand-centric online communities, Facebook has become the dominant host for online communities of brand enthusiasts, taking over $10 billion and 10% of U.S. digital advertising spending. The results of the study offer the first hard evidence that these social dollars exist. Specifically, they account for almost 20% of all dollars spent by customers after they join the community. Social Dollars: The Economic Impact of Customer Participation in a Firm-Sponsored Online Customer Community, is by professors Puneet Manchanda of the University of Michigan, Grant Packard of Wilfrid Laurier University, and Adithya Pattabhiramaiah of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Marketing Science, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

Feedback interactions in a creative setting - Feedback - the objective response, opinion, or input - is something most of us experience either at work or amongst friends to bodies of work or projects that are complete. But in the world of creative processes - where no one knows what the finished product should look like - feedback is inherently different, and more constructive. "Traditionally when we think about feedback, we think about the manager who knows what an employee's performance should look like; they're able to objectively measure how the employee is doing and kind of agree on how the performance has gone," says Spencer Harrison, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Management and Organization in the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. "But when you're doing something that's inherently creative, the whole point of creativity is you don't know what the outcome is supposed to look like when you're starting off. So now all of a sudden, both worker and feedback provider are in completely different positions than what a classic feedback situation entails, and we just didn't know very much about what that feedback situation should look like. How do people actually guide others down a path when they don't know what the outcome should be, when they're kind of both discovering newness along the way?" Critical to the feedback's success is a conversation between creative workers who are receptive to help, and feedback providers who have done their homework. Boston College. Academy of Management Journal

Careful choice of words increases chances of success - When negotiating your next pay raise, haggling at the flea market or selling a used car, attention should be paid to the choice of words. A recent study revealed that proper wording can translate into hard cash. Thus, even slight linguistic nuances may significantly affect the outcome of negotiations - an effect which can also benefit non-professional negotiators. This principle applies even if what is at stake is not money. Psychologist Professor Dr. Roman Trötschel, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, and Dr. David Loschelder, Saarland University. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Product placement, branding - As branding and advertising creep into almost every facet of life, a new study shows it's now making substantial inroads into popular music. The study found a steep increase in `advertainment' or the use of product placement, branding and name dropping among the most popular music in the nation. The study also showed a direct link between product placement and brand awareness. University of Colorado Denver

Content creators - It's not much harder or more expensive to send a tweet or a Facebook post to hundreds or even thousands of people than to just a handful. So you'd think that the ease of communicating with lots of people via social networks would result in more and more people sharing their thoughts, etc. But that's not the case, says Associate Professor Zsolt Katona. The flood of tweets and posts washing across cyberspace has created a huge imbalance in the number of people creating content and the number of people who receive it. That imbalance stems from some content creators giving up on actively contributing to social networks, while others choose to send out more and more messages to users in an effort to be noticed. Although more and more people are participating in social networking, a smaller percentage of users are actively creating and sharing content. Industry reports estimate that just 10 percent of Twitter users broadcast 90 percent of the network's tweets. The research suggests that social networking is a bit like a market: People who create and send content are investing effort to win customers--in this case the "receivers" who will view their content. Co-author Ganesh Iyer, Edgar F. Kaiser Chair in Business Administration at Berkeley-Haas. Univeristy of California - Berkeley Haas School of Business. Management Science

Measuring marketing effectiveness - From "Got Milk?" to "What's in your wallet?" to "Are you a Mac or a PC?" promotional phrases consisting of a simple question have proven to be quite effective, but are they more effective than a simple statement? That depends. Henrik Hagtvedt, Ph.D., a Marketing professor at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, has just finished investigating what happens when you replace a period with a question mark, or vice versa, and how that affects whether a consumer makes a purchase. Given the takeaway of the research - aroused consumers appreciate clarity, while calm consumers appreciate stimuli that peak their interest - the lesson for marketers is this: Know where your message is being seen. Journal of Consumer Psychology

Consumer behavior and free trials: What makes a customer stay? - Free trials are wildly popular, but customers attracted with these promotions behave very differently from standard customers. "Because of their higher turnover rate, free trial customers are, at first glance, worth considerably less than regular customers. Companies may have to reduce profit expectations if the customer base includes a substantial share of free-trial subscribers. But this study found that free trial customers are also more "malleable" than regular customers. They have a less-developed relationship with the firm, and are less certain about the service benefits. Targeting free trial customers with marketing communication and information on their own usage behavior may have a big impact on encouraging them to retain the service," the authors conclude. Journal of Marketing Research

Launching a new brand - A new study shows that partnering with established brands may not always benefit new brands. "Our findings call into question a cornerstone of marketing practice. There are times when partnering with an existing brand can actually be detrimental to a new brand. Because an established brand gets more attention from consumers, this can prevent consumers from associating any benefits of the partnership with the new brand," write authors Marcus Cunha Jr. (University of Georgia), Mark R. Forehand (University of Washington), and Justin W. Angle (University of Montana). "Riding Coattails: When Co-Branding Helps versus Hurts Less-Known Brands." Journal of Consumer Research

Twitter chatter and marketplace - An increase in Twitter sentiment (the positivity or negativity of tweets) is associated with an increase in state-level enrollment in health insurance marketplaces - a phenomenon that points to use of the social media platform as a real-time gauge of public opinion and provides a way for marketplaces to quickly identify enrollment changes and emerging issues. Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Journal of Medical Internet Research

International marketing: Are store brands becoming a global phenomenon? - Big name brands in the United States and Western Europe face a serious and growing threat from successful store brands. A new study explains why store brands have taken some countries by storm while leaving other countries relatively untouched. The authors studied sales information from 46 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East, looking particularly at home-care, packaged food, tissue and hygiene, and pet care. Prior studies had shown that when consumers are willing to pay more for a big name brand, store brands must be offered at significantly lower prices in order to compete. The current study found that countries with modernized marketing systems containing supermarkets instead of mom-and-pop stores are in the best position to lower prices on store brands since only these large stores are able to buy a high enough volume of the store brand to make this move cost effective. Journal of International Marketing

Local media have positive slant toward local businesses - When local news media report about hometown companies, they use fewer negative words than when reporting about nonlocal companies. Alex Butler, a professor of finance at Rice's Jones Graduate School of Business, said this positive slant is not coincidental; it's the result of local companies' advertising expenditures in local media outlets. This positive media bias, or hype, creates a conflict of interest and can affect firm values, particularly those of smaller firms. Butler co-authored the study "Don't Believe the Hype: Local Media Slant, Local Advertising and Firm Value" with Umit Gurun, an associate professor of accounting at UT Dallas. Rice University and the University of Texas at Dallas

Employees become angry when receiving after-hours email, texts - People who receive electronic correspondence from work after hours become angry more often than not and that can interfere with their personal lives. Some of the recommendations the study makes include training for what to say and what not to say in an email or text, setting boundaries for when to send electronic correspondence, guidelines for proper communication style and topics best discussed face-to-face rather than electronically. The University of Texas at Arlington. Academy of Management Journal

Communication about products and brands- Communication channels such as Facebook may be leading consumers to discuss more interesting products. New technologies have dramatically changed how we communicate. Instead of talking face-to-face or over the phone, consumers can now e-mail, text, tweet, or message back and forth on Facebook. Jonah Berger and Raghuram Iyengar (both Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. "Communication Channels and Word of Mouth: How the Medium Shapes the Message." Journal of Consumer Research

Brand loyalty - What would happen to all those millions of fans if their favorite chocolate bar was temporarily out of stock? Would they wait for it to be available again or would they quickly switch allegiance to another brand? When you can't get your favorite product, you'll quickly forget about it if you can find a good replacement. Xianchi Dai (CUHK Business School, Chinese University of Hong Kong), and Ayelet Fishbach (University of Chicago Booth School of Business). Journal of Consumer Research

Traditional forms of media coverage or advertising? - In an age where digital media is constantly changing, public relations practitioners and business professionals still see the benefits of traditional media coverage.

"We have this intuitive idea that getting our messages covered by the news media makes those messages more credible than when we put them out there ourselves," said study co-author Lynne Sallot, a professor of public relations in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. "Everyone believes this, but it's been difficult to prove it."

Independent media coverage is a more traditional form of news content like a TV broadcast, newspaper article or radio show, whereas more controlled sources of media are paid media such as advertisements or an organization's own website.

"Both types of communication are used by businesspeople, but an independent source may be viewed by audiences as having more credibility because it is not controlled or influenced by the subject of a story," said Pauline Howes, an associate professor of communications at Kennesaw State University. 
When determining what goes into a business's story, the editors and producers behind these independent news sources have no vested interest in the company or its products.

Differing from past experimental studies, this research looked at real world perceptions by interviewing public relation practitioners as well as business professionals.

"Most all experimental studies comparing independent and controlled sources show no significant difference in perceived credibility," Howes said.
University of Georgia. Public Relations Journal

 

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