Writing from experience

“Only connect,” wrote EM Forster. How right he was. Because when people and ideas connect, wonderful things happen. People understand each other. Barriers are overcome. Synergies are achieved.

And what I do is to make connections through words. I take on board what someone wants to convey, carefully consider the intended audience and then mould the language that will form a bond between the two.

During my career I have worked as a journalist, a PR and a marketer. I’ve given a voice to half a million readers, created little gems of videos that made a difference to people’s lives, and written speeches that moved people to tears (for all the right reasons). That’s what words can do.

I’ve written for a worryingly large number of different organisations on every topic imaginable for almost every conceivable audience, and in styles ranging from light and frothy through to heavyweight and corporate. Because of that, nothing fazes me and – I promise you – give me a good brief and no-one will come up with copy that works harder to achieve your objectives.

The service I provide is personal and direct. No juniors or lackeys. I take the brief, apply a lifetime of professional experience and produce copy that really works -  for SMEs, corporates, charities and Government departments as well as some very respected agencies.

These days, I spend much of my time writing about later life issues. It’s an area where – with all due modesty – few people have deeper and broader experience than I can offer. I’ve edited newspapers, written books, delivered speeches and campaigned on subjects around retirement and ageing for almost 30 years. I understand the issues. I know the players. I have a firm grasp of the politics. If you want to communicate messages to or about this demographic, I’m your man.

But that’s enough for this page. Click on to the menu top right to find out more about what I do and who I do it for. Oh, and if you’d like to see some of my work designed to entertain and inform, click on the ‘Sticky Patch‘.

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A bit about me

stood_1If you’re interested in this sort of detail, I live in Axbridge, just south of Bristol, and have more children than I can shake a stick at (if I was allowed to); but (fortunately) they’ve all flown the nest. When I’m not tapping immortal prose into my iMac, I enjoy distance running, cycling, blues music, politics and following the mixed fortunes of Bristol City FC.

Part of my life is set aside for working voluntarily on behalf of older people. I’ve been involved in this sector for over 30 years, so it’s a personal as well as a professional passion. I was very proud to be appointed an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours List for ‘services to older people’.

I currently act as the Chairman of the South West Forum on Ageing, the body that represents older people at a local and national Government level. In that capacity I also help steer the activities of the Age Action Alliance, the 800+ strong network of organisations that work with or for older people.

tony watts : camilla, duchess of cornwallI regularly get asked by the media to act as a spokesperson on ageing issues, so feel free to get in touch if you’d like some informed comment. I have also spoken at many at events, including the Pensioners Parliament in Blackpool, and acted as a judge at relevant awards ceremonies – including the WRVS ‘Diamond Champions’ (hence the animated discussion shown here with their president, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall!) and the 2012 Roses media awards, organised by Independent Age. In 2012 I was invited to give evidence at the House of Lords Select Committee on the impact of demographic change, to talk about integrating care.

Feel free to click on the contact button or call me on 07738 167788.

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What I do

My specialist skills & subjectssat_3

First the elevator pitch: I’m a highly experienced writer, communicator, campaigner and strategist who has worked in the interconnecting disciplines of PR, journalism and marketing for many years.

Now the detail. Having been in PR, marketing and journalism since the 70s, my CV would take up far too much room. But in brief, I began in the water industry before moving to BOC in London, then moved into PR consultancy before realising – about 25 years ago – that what I really enjoy doing most is writing.

Since then I have been a freelance copywriter – based in Bristol but working for a host of regional and national agencies and clients – and combined this with writing for and editing a wide range of newspapers and magazines (again national and regional).

50+ sector
Many people will know my work in the 50+ market over the last 30 years. I was the founding editor of Mature Times and was – until recently – editing (and co-owning) this national monthly paper with 500,000 readers and a huge website. I’ve written supplements on retirement issues in The Guardian and the two Telegraph titles and penned several books on retirement and care. That makes me one of the most experienced writers in this huge but often misunderstood sector. Add on to that the work I now do as Chair of one of the UK’s Forums on Ageing (detailed in ‘A Bit About Me’) and it means I really do know this market – and the factors that will determine success for a product or service. So if you want to engage with the UK’s 20+ million older people with strategic advice or carefully targeted copy, I am your man.

Property and Inward Investment
Again, this is a market I know very well. I began freelancing for Property Week in 1997, and later for the Sunday Times, and I still work regularly for a range of commercial property agencies writing press releases, feature articles and websites.  Each year I generate a definitive report on the Bristol property scene. Equally I have written for a regional and sub-regional development agencies on issues such as regeneration and inward investment, as well as for UKTI.

tony watts: michael heseltineWeb content writing and social media
It still surprises me how few websites are enjoyable to read and navigate – let alone optimised for search engines. Not the ones I write, though. I can also keep sites updated with blogs, news and white papers; and with social media now a must for many businesses, I can guide you on how to maximise the potential of Linked In, Facebook and Twitter.

Press releases and features
Years of editing and freelance journalism means I know what news and features desks want. I’m very happy working direct for clients or for agencies.

Marketing collateral
Brochureware, newsletters, DM, eDM… it’s all grist to the mill. And no subject or technology fazes me.

Technical case studies
I really enjoy making a technical subject interesting and accessible to a wider audience, and have had a huge amount of experience at this. I love technology and this enthusiasm comes across in my writing. In the last few years alone I have written over a hundred business case studies for the Welsh Assembly Government.

Speech and script writing
Getting up in front of an audience can be a daunting. But imagine yourself equipped with a speech that’s sharp, purposeful and targeted… That’s what I’ve done for a wide range of clients – including some of the most senior people in the Dubai International Financial Exchange. And I have lost count of the powerpoint presentations I’ve written over the years.

Helping other people to write
One of the other strings to my bow is teaching others to write. I run weekend creative writing courses for aspiring writers around the UK, and also courses for businesses looking to improve the communication skills of their staff.

tony watts : wrvs awardsGhostwriting
Nothing to do with spirits although, spookily, my first ghost-written book was for a spiritual healer and medium. Basically if you have a story to tell, but not necessarily the writing skills, I can provide those.

Video writing & production
I have over years of experience in using moving words and images to tell a story. I’m happy to work just as the writer, but can also direct and edit.

Freelance journalism
Having edited local papers, business magazines and national publications, as well as freelanced for several major national titles, I’m delighted to keep my hand in with ad hoc commissions.

And what do I charge…?

Based on day /hour rates, and for some editorial clients I work on £/1,000 word rates.

Call me on 07738 167788.

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Who I do it for

Directly and indirectly, lots of people – and much of my work is commissioned through agencies.

It also takes the form of feature articles, websites, content marketing, speeches and public presentations, conference materials, video scripts, press releases, newsletters and much more. Past and current clients include:

Daily & Sunday Telegraph (features)

The Guardian (features)

Jordans, corporate law (company launch and videos)

Serco (exhibition collateral)

Department of Communities & Local Government (newsletters)

Procter & Gamble (international marketing copy)

State of Arizona (inward investment newsletters)

Deutsche Messe (exhibition collateral)

Warner Leisure Hotels (brochureware)

Welsh Assembly Government (business profiles)

Bristol Property Agents Association (annual market reports)

Micro Materials (technical brochureware)

Biotec (website)

Capital Energy Solutions (website)

Cycle West (website)

United Smile Centres (website and brochureware)

Shropshire Social Services (website, PR and collateral on fostering)

Chantry Court, advertising copy for retirement complex

Dyne Drewett, Solicitors (website)

Albert Goodman, Accountants (brochureware)

RetireEasy (website, videos, press releases and blogs)

LEAD Wales (press features)

Forgerock, enterprise software (press writing)

Butler & Sherborn, property agents (website and blogs)

Williams Gunter Hardwick, commercial property agents (PR)

University of the West of England (press features)

Fraser International (inward mission catalogue)

Partnership, financial services (brochureware)

Ageing Works (website copy)

My Ageing Parent (press releases)

But I work for smaller organisations too – from sculptors and printers through to nursing homes and career consultants.

Call me on 07738 167788.

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