At the end of the day, is our content becoming too cliché?

Session Title

At the end of the day, is our content becoming too cliché?


Relly Annett-Baker, Poppy Copy

Session Type: Presentation

About pages, contact us, company news, scraped RSS feeds, here’s another support form to fill in and please answer our survey. Frankly, our content is becoming as repetitious as a woodpecker with a stutter. Why have our clients fallen into this pattern of expectation? What can you do to revive content creation from deathly monotonous chore, and dull to read, into a properly engaging experience? And how can you persuade anyone to put their hard-earned web budget into original writing, for goodness’ sake, didn’t you see how much the CMS cost us?!!

Ladies and gentlemen, we are at a tipping point. Either we embrace content as crucial interaction with our customers or our websites will forever read like phone directories – and when did you last read a phone directory?

In this session, I will put forward my best arguments for having Proper Content and the business benefits of doing so. Take them back to your clients. While you’re there you can give them some examples of Interesting vs Boring content. Gee them up a bit with some suggestions of How To Raise A Site’s Content From The Dead. While they are mulling over that, slip in Why Content Is An Asset Not A Commodity. Finally, go for the kill: We Can Make This Site Much Better, You Know. You’ll get all of these things from my presentation.


Relly Annett-Baker lives in Brighton, England with her husband and their three-year-old son and baby boy. As a result she thrives on the sea air and can be guaranteed to stand on Lego at least once a day. As well as being a content writer, she is employed as live-in domestic staff by two cats who often supervise her typing and make editorial suggestions such as ‘I think it’s dinner time’.

Writing for radio and the web for more years than she cares to remember, Relly has had many and varied clients but worries that make her sound more like a high class hooker than a content writer. Having got around a bit (oh dear) on the copy writing scene, she settled for a monogamous relationship writing content for the web and somewhere between her first and second son her company, Poppy Copy, was born. It is yet to keep her awake at night.

People tell her she is a Content Strategist. She thinks they are just searching for a polite title for ‘bossy and wordy’ but it does look nicer on her business cards.


  1. Al Stevens
    Posted September 20, 2009 at 4:02 am

    Copywriters on the web all too often seem to play a game of fill in the gaps, which is quite inadequate and won’t attract the creative copywriters who play such a central part in traditional advertising. This is an area which really interests me at the moment, particularly how and where copywriters should sit within a creative web team and whether they be central to the creative process and heavily involved with coming up with ideas alongside designers and ia’s, and how this might work in practice.

  2. Posted September 22, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Al – you’re dead right. I call this Copy Tetris syndrome, we have all the pieces and we have the spaces so now we just have to make it fit right? If you’re good, no-one ever notices it wasn’t planned that way in advance but really, more often than not, it looks like you’ve jammed it in any old how that doesn’t disrupt the ‘look’ of the site.

    I’m a big advocate of writers and content strategists being there working alongside IAs and designers right from the beginning – something I’ll be covering in this talk.

    Another analogy I use is that of an artisan bakery: the bakers care about bread, they love to talk about bread recipes, experiment and make great bread. Most of their customers appreciate a good loaf but when it comes down to it, they want the bread to be part of a yummy sandwich. If the bread is amazing but the filling is bland, it’ll still be a crappy sandwich. Same with websites, if the design is astounding, the code a work to rival a sketch of Da Vinci, the interaction design heaven sent but the content as dull as ditchwater and/or a last minute botch, it’ll still be a crap site to use overall. Just a goodlookin’, well functioning crap site!

  3. Posted September 27, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    So funny that you’d say “bossy and wordy.” That is precisely how I have often described why it is that I am both a web writer and a strategist: ‘Hi. I’m a bossy writer.” I’ve even labeled myself that way in various project Basecamps. :)

    It comes, of course, from digging in to work on the words and other content, which you do with the dear reader in mind (the client, too), and discovering all the obstacles, confusion, omissions, awkward paths, as well as incongruities in brand, voice, design, proposed content, navigation, emphasis, audience, business goals, etc. You find yourself saying repeatedly, “Um, but…” and thus a bossy writer, er, strategist, is born. It is critically important to be there at the beginning of a project. Hope you are able to give this talk!

  4. Posted September 27, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Of course, by “bossy” we mean “one who educates, informs, gently guides, suggests brilliant ideas, and serves divine wines and mouthwatering appetizers while doing so.” Look it up! It’s true!

  5. Tristan Bailey
    Posted September 28, 2009 at 2:22 am

    I think it sounds interesting, after all content is king, and most people are not interested in your product. But they are interested in what it can do for them and them is now lots of specific groups online. You can target them each with their own content as you need not run out of printing space. But it needs to be good, and finding that good value is still not easy for companies on their own.

  6. Posted October 1, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    i’m more interested in ideas for leveraging the power of words in interfaces; less in making the point. i think it is easy to show rather than tell to make the point on this one. inspire me with examples of great content–don’t just tell me it is important.