September 2014

Welcome Month of September!

As we end the third quarter of 2014, the “dog days” of summer give way to crisp fall air, the trees turn, students return to school. . . . and I begin a vigorous autumn of writing your marketing communications.

In this month’s issue, I’ll address the “Top 5” things your freelance copywriters should do to succeed with clients’ projects. I’m reminded of these by copywriter and author, Steve Slaunwhite, one of the country’s best marketing and communications’ experts (and my coach in years gone by).

Also included are more accessible details on complying with CASL from Saskatoon lawyer, Tory Baril, some word usage analysis from Bryan Garner and the usual “shop news.”

Enjoy this issue and the beauty of early autumn!

CEO, Elizabeth Shih Communications


5 Habits of Successful B2B Copywriters

Recently, Brampton-based copywriter, award-winning author and coach Steve Slaunwhite posted electronically 5 of the most common habits of highly successful copywriters.

Although he shared these as pointers for freelance service providers, I want to reframe them here for clients and prospects: Seek out freelance writers with these practices and you’ll boost the success of your projects:

  1. Copywriters must take the “darn” shot—Steve reminds copywriters not to give into endless planning or reviewing or backtracking when writing and editing “marcom” materials. Good writers occasionally need expert advice and should practice their art. But we mustn’t forget to “take aim and shoot!” he says.
  2. We should give hard work a try—Copywriting legend David Ogilvy famously cited the Scottish proverb: “ ‘Hard work never killed a man.’  Men die of boredom, psychological conflict and disease. They do not die of hard work.”  Good freelancers are always willing to put in extra effort, when needed.
  3. Copywriters must treat their business like a business – We must be disciplined and professional about showing up at our desks daily and giving clients like you a very positive experience of working with us. This means that we’ll promote our services by calling or sending you messages. Take this as a compliment: it is one!
  4. Copywriters must focus consistently on ideal prospects—we must identify excellent prospects and “turn them into clients.” You may well be that client if you do not expect bargain basement fees or want to micromanage the project. And the more we work with you, the faster and easier (and better) the work becomes–for everyone!
  5. Steve’s final tip: Freelancers like me should get good, really good at what we do—plenty of companies are parched for excellent (not mediocre) B2B copywriters. You seek  those of us who have mastered the formats, who keep current, listen to webinars and (above all) write well. You should look for these kinds of commitments from your writers.

Given these 5 tips from Steve, I see why for freelancers like me, the work is never done! There are always ways to improve on the services we provide and how we provide them.

To clients and prospects, do these tips ring true to you, as traits you seek in your freelancers? I urge you to search for copywriters who make no bones about adopting these ongoing processes of learning and growing.


Nerd Alert! Word Nerd Corner . . .

In written English, a “zeugma” is a figure of speech that “yokes together” two constructions for one word. Etymologist Bryan Garner says that it may result “in a grammatical error, but sometimes is simply a felicitous way of phrasing an idea.”

Garner offers examples first of the witty/humourous kind of zeugma, but indicates that there are also incorrect/erroneous uses. Today, here are two humourous ones:

  • From Groucho Marx: “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana” (in Jim Shea, “Groucho Speaks,” Hartford Courant, 18 August, 1997). Note that here “flies” and “like” are used in two senses, yoked together.
  • From the “Jim Henson Hour”:  “I just blew my nose, a fuse and three circuit breakers” (16 July 1989). Note that here two applications of “blew” are yoked together.

(c) “Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day” (Aug-Sept, 2014).

I follow Garner’s blog, because I know and find that idiomatic use of the English language is essential to writing of all kinds. Language is a medium that is inextricably linked to the ideas or message that we use it to express.


CASL Continues  . . .

Troy Baril, Associate of Saskatoon’s Miller Thompson Law Firm offered a seminar this summer, on the new Canadian anti-spam legislation (CASL) for entrepreneurs of the Raj Manek Business Mentorship Program. Troy spoke exhaustively about the legislation and how to comply with it. But here are a few last-minute pointers (legislation became effective July 1st, 2014):

  1. There are three requirements that every Commercial Electronic Message (CEM) must contain: the consent of the recipient; clear identification of the sender and the sender’s contact information; and a mechanism to “unsubscribe” which allows the recipient to stop receiving your marketing materials. (Note: that information is available at the end of every issue of my e-newsletter.)
  2. Requests to unsubscribe must be honoured within 10 days of receipt.
  3. There are some instances of implied consent that will allow you to send CEMs to people with whom you have a current “business relationship” or a “non-business relationship.”
  4. Entrepreneurs can write and request information about a company’s services, but cannot offer their own services to the recipient. In addition, there is an exception that will allow you to reply once to a request for information.

I ask explicitly for permission to send messages, via the email request form, on every page of my website (at

While some implied consents do exist, they all expire on July 1, 2017. After that date, you need express consent from anyone to whom you wish to send a CEM.

Word to the wise: Why not secure explicit permission immediately, and so remove any doubt in the future?

This is a brief summary of complex legislation and should not be construed as legal advice.

For more information on CASL, please contact Troy Baril at Saskatoon’s Miller Thomson Law Firm:  or (306) 667-5630


Shop News . . .

In August, I participated in a family hike and enjoyed a few days with relatives and pets. Summer vacation time is essential to renew one’s creative well.

On September 21st, I’ll be attending Saskatoon’s book and literary festival, “Word on the Street.” If you’re also there, please take the time to stop and say hello!


About Us . . .

Since 2011, Elizabeth Shih Communications has provided B2B marketing and communications services on the Prairies and across Canada.

Do you need help writing your “marcom” materials? Please contact me through my website, via the CASL-compliant email form, on the right-hand side of each page (

After I have received your permission, I’ll be pleased to discuss projects with you!

I help small- and medium-sized businesses create e-newsletters, blog postings, promotional emails, press releases, and related documents that secure good clients. Please visit my website for more information (