Q&A with Little pink typewriter

Want to know a bit more about Little pink typewriter – the person, the brand, the business?

I was recently interviewed by a journalism graduate about all things Little pink typewriter, and the evolving comms industry. With permission to reproduce, here it is:

Tell me about the name, Little pink typewriter, and how you got started

Well, firstly, it’s deliberately Little pink typewriter (sentence case: capital, adjective, [common] noun) – word-nerd alert!

Like many things in life, a bit of an accidental adventure, really. I never had plans to run my own business, but I think I’d just been in corporate land long enough to know what my strengths were – and that I particularly loved roles / projects where I had autonomy. Plus, I’d already worked remotely here and there in various roles and writing / editing is conducive to that set-up. So, while I was toying with the idea of consulting / freelancing, I started taking on contracts and part-time work and slowly moved away from full-time work.

It’s an adventure because you never quite know what’s going to happen and while I do as much as I can to control what I can control, my years of travelling and general philosophical outlook on life enable to me to just “roll with it”.

Here’s a snippet in my ‘why’. It’s not one of those navel-gazing, world-changing, legacy-leaving whys… it’s just kinda how I (prefer to) operate.

The brand name itself is briefly explained on my home page:

“Okay, I’m not really a typewriter – I’m a human! I don’t have a little pink typewriter (though I do have a little pink keyboard) and I do work in the 21st century. I’m passionate about the craft of writing and its traditional tools, like the little pink typewriter and its always handy sidekick, the little red pen…”

I like the concept of “little”. I’m a sole operator / small business / freelancer, and a small person. Autonomous, self-contained, with no desire to be “big”. Pink? I don’t really know why I chose that, and well, gender colour stereotypes aside, I am female. Typewriter – probably self-explanatory, but to reflect my love for the traditional tool of my “craft”.

The funny thing is: I’ve spent many a corporate workshop brainstorming brand names for clients and exploring their vision, mission, values and goals, etc before settling on a business name, but mine just “came to me” and I didn’t spend too much time pontificating its relevance to my audience / business goals. Maybe I should’ve! It seems to resonate with people – even if a lot of my clients are in heavy industry / engineering, and it could be perceived as being a bit “twee”, but it’s also very “me” and a contrast / balance to that industry. After all, I’m the creative / slightly quirky person they’re engaging, so it’s hopefully something a little more colourful than “STEM content consultant”!

What kind of work excites you the most?

Transformation

Hmmm. I guess the projects with the most obvious transformation for the client – perhaps a company that doesn’t have branding (or good branding), or content or a digital presence (blank page stuff), so you see a much more obvious “before and after” impact. I love working with designers to transform clients visually as well as verbally.

When someone tells me their story and their goals and I can turn those thoughts / ideas into words onto a website or into marketing collateral that resonates with them, it’s very satisfying.

When I see a client’s LinkedIn stats go from “red” to “green”, with 300% increase in followers or engagement, it’s also a big w’hoo!

Clarity

I also love transforming clunky, technical copy into clear, concise messages. I’ve worked with engineers / STEM professionals for years and it’s still really satisfying seeing that transformation of “what they’re saying” to “what they want to say”. And when clients say “Oh! That’s what I was trying to say”, it’s pretty cool.

What aspects of your work do you struggle with?

Possibly marketing myself / making the time to do so. I’m much more client-focused than Lpt-centred (not necessarily a bad thing!), though I do as much as I can / feel comfortable doing.

Quoting can also be tricky as you can never be sure how long something will take, and I always invest up front in the first draft. I basically try to write a “perfect” (nothing in life or business is perfect!) first draft, but you never know what the client feedback will be.

Editing and technical writing is a lot more straightforward than creative copy as it’s largely right / wrong, grammatically correct or incorrect, and the only variables are things like House Style / brand preferences, etc, whereas creative copy – like anything creative – is obviously much more subjective.

Catering / pitching to my niche. Early days of starting a business – even with a g’zillion years’ experience – you tend to say “yes” a lot. To everything. I’m trying to focus my business / marketing on my niche rather than being all things to all people, which is marketing 101 and what I’ve known for years and what I would advise clients, so I have to make sure I “practise what I preach”!

In what way has public relations / communications changed over the years?

Hmmm. I’ve only worked in two PR agencies and dabbled in PR in my other roles, so I’m not really an expert in PR or media relations. I guess the most obvious change would be digital platforms and the immediacy / rapidity of messaging. And, therefore, how quickly you (potentially) need to respond. Crisis comms would be a very challenging place to be as there is a sound / video byte for everything and things can go viral quick-sticks! That can be advantageous, but also, clearly, challenging.

Depending on the type of PR you work in – mainstream media / news, events / lifestyle, there are just so many more channels and so many people with, er, “influence”. #hashtaghashtag

But, the fundamental rules still apply – know your facts, stick with the facts, know the relevance / news angle, stay on message; stay on brand. Distinguish the bs from reality.

How important is keeping up to date on changes in the industry to you?

Uber important. I’m so grateful that I made myself acutely aware of this eons ago – even when I was writing copy on one of those boxy “Macintoshes” in 1997, which led to me knowing how to use “Quark” on an iMac in 1998 in Ireland (which was a huge bonus at the time!) and learning desktop publishing / understanding the design side of communications. All that led to having a broader understanding of the way the publishing / communications industry works. Fastforward to landing my first communications manager role, where all those things came together. I didn’t realise it at the time, but… invaluable in hindsight.

I’ve come from an old-school journo degree / print background and upskilled wherever possible to work in digital platforms, and am always keeping an eye on LinkedIn, webinars, industry events.

Having said that, I’m not always an early adopter / jumping on the latest and greatest way to do something bandwagon, or feeling the need to be across ALL communications platforms – please! Exhausting! But I stay across industry (both comms and the ones my clients work in) news/updates to have as much information as I can.

What kind of changes do you expect to see in the industry going forward?

Even more innovations in digital communications, including AI, and with COVID shaking up the world, the way we communicate, consume and share information, do business, purchase, and live in general… The overused, but appropriate, term, “agility”, is key. Whatever happens, you have to be aware and ready to respond, and dare I say, another overused term, “pivot” (or modify), to increasing changes. But again, each business / industry is different and not all of these changes will impact each business / industry – and some to more / lesser extent – it’s all relative! So it’s not necessarily a case of having to adapt to every innovation or industry change, but being aware and deciding how you / your business should respond, should it need to.

Sadly, less print, less human jobs, more automation – possibly? But, maybe not. You still need humans to facilitate change and have human interaction / build relationships, etc. Data-driven strategies aren’t everything either. You still need humans to analyse data and communicate outcomes.

Do you use any AI / chatbots / data management / analytics systems in your business? If so, could you talk me through them?

Nope. I don’t even have a user-led, pop-up chat box on my website! As I said, I’m not always jumping on every strategy HubSpot tells me I should because it’s “UXy”. *disclaimer – I think HubSpot is excellent / the benchmark for digital strategy, but it doesn’t always apply to a sole operator.

I have Google Analytics and SEO analytics on my website. I look at my LinkedIn stats. I pay little / some attention to my FB / Insta (ugh!) stats, but I’m not obsessed with them.

Do you see AI or automation posing a threat to you / the industry?

Ah, I have faith in the human condition meaning humans need humans. Does every technological innovation mean a positive impact / outcome? Not always. There is room for both. Ask me in a few years when Lpt is run by a bot. #Iloathebots

What advice would you give to those wanting to work in the communications or editing industry?

Be clear on your strengths and your drivers – passion, if not too strong a word. What do you love about the comms industry? What do you loathe? Do you love the craft of writing / finetuning, do you love the impact of a successful campaign, are you driven to make change, do you love being part of a team? Are you extroverted, introverted or (like me), an ambivert? It all depends on the type of role and / or career path you’re considering and your persona. Dig in to those strengths. Find people who recognise – and value – those strengths. Sure, you’ve sometimes got to be put into a box and do “stuff” you don’t love as much – all part of the journey / progress. There is no “perfect” role and it takes time to figure out what you do / don’t love, but once you establish those things and hone them, the rest should follow.

Our perception of what a particular career might look like is often very different once we start / once we’re part of a, dare I say, cog in a machine (terrible analogy, given what I just said about AI!), in the post-uni / real world, and other life experiences influence your persona / career anyway, so explore the options, build on your experience and hone your craft. Cliché? Maybe. But sometimes clichés are clichés for a reason.

(Thanks for reading – if you made it to the bottom!)

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