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( 360 visitor comments )


PR, copy, corporate

I do a lot of work for the World Bank, corporates, political parties and NGOs – from websites to report-writing.

 This mostly involves reducing lots of data (and sometimes very technical data) into something someone would want to read.

A few quick examples may suffice:
This report on Cambodia’s labor market condenses 27 pages of data:
Cambodia’s labor market  - fairly typical for Southeast Asia - is in disarray. Presently 190,000 university graduates are seeking 86,000 jobs. Examples of “supply as a percentage of demand” are:
Foreign languages graduates: 1,130%
IT graduates: 613%
Law graduates: 998%
('Matching Aspirations'; World Bank, 2012)
Meanwhile, one cannot find a competent plumber or electrician. Trades are seen as ‘lower status’, so international standard training for tradespeople barely exists. The situation wouldn’t be hard to fix…
From a 2001 analysis of Mac’s new operating system, for Macworld:
Last October Apple released its public beta version of OS X. In the months since then, X has engaged, challenged and often pleased developers, as well as providing all the usual annoyances: with changes to the final version set to provide a few more.
After 100,000 beta copies elicited an extraordinary 75,000+ “user feedback entries” worldwide, this long-awaited final version of OS X will be released on March 24.
A few Australian software developers haven’t gone near OS X yet. Others have been working with it for months. One of these is Andrew Tomazos of Stairways Software, which created the web, file and network tool Interarchy:
“We are in the process of beta testing our Mac OS X version” Tomazos says. “We hope to have the final version ready for the release of Mac OS X final. There are many small details and issues that need to be addressed because of the radical changes from Mac OS 9.x to Mac OS X - but we should be ready for March 24.”
This is a rationale for my NGO’s plans to pipe water to rural villages:
After 19 years of managing projects in the Cambodian countryside, we feel that clean water might be the most glaring absence from rural life. The unavailability of running water in villages describes a key divide in income, health, education and opportunity between Cambodia’s urban and rural people.
The UNDP’s 2006 Human Development Report, which set today’s global agenda for water and sanitation, stated that poor water and sanitation led annually to 1.8 million child deaths from diarrhoea – five times those from AIDS, and six times those from armed conflict – as well as 443 million lost school days, and a large school drop-out rate for girls. It added that, worldwide, the poor frequently pay ten times more for water than the rich; and that women bear the brunt of ‘time poverty’ from water-collection, bringing about exhaustion and reducing time spent on gaining skills, growing food and caring for children. Lack of access to clean water and sanitation costs developing countries 2.6% of GDP on average. All this applies with bells on to Cambodia.
This one's for the Asian Development Bank on why microcredit doesn't work (unless it's done with add-ons):
Unlike some ‘broad-brush’ MC schemes now proliferating in Cambodia - and often causing damage - our schemes worked, we believe, because they were ‘microcredit-plus’:
We confined them to a specific clientele whom we knew intimately (vocational graduates).
They were premised on entrepreneurial activity - not on ‘income-smoothing’ to merely keep the wolf from the door for another month.
Our clients had to demonstrate that they had the resources to bring success: this, rather than collateral, proved to be the key to risk management.
Globally, there seem to be no reliable studies demonstrating that microcredit works to help people out of poverty.  There is also a backlash against microcredit in countries where markets are getting saturated and lender ethics are declining. It seems to be time to scientifically establish what works and what doesn’t.
Lastly, when needed, the seriously wonkish:
It is important for any organization keep time-to-market low for new or reengineered products. This is independent of whether the product is hardware, software or a service.
Unfortunately, a large number of variables influence time-to-market in a complex way. One of them is which Product Development model is used.
Philosophically, there are two completely different views on how to develop products in an efficient way: classical and dynamic. To date, the classical methods have been dominant in industry.
The most well-known classical models are: Sequential Development, Waterfall Model Development, Integrated Product Development (IPD), Concurrent Engineering (CE), Simultaneous Engineering (SE), Stage-Gate®, and Rational Unified Process (RUP).

Good copywriting is rare, because it requires the left-brain faculty of absorbing vast amounts of information, and the intuitive, right-brain ability to reduce it to something short and lucid.