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Becky Hewson-Haworth is a HR professional turned copywriter who provides a full range of copywriting services with a specialist focus on technical subjects and employee total reward communications. With over two decades’ reward and writing experience for some of the world’s biggest brands, she delivers effective communications, inside your organisation and out.

This interview has been years in the planning as we 1st met Becky at a networking event in Manchester. It was this meeting that led to LinkedIn training and Becky going in to work with Coca Cola.

We explore that journey today alongside conversations about copywriting and why words matter.

Firstly tell us about what you do?

I’m a freelance copywriter with a focus on B2B, professional services and tech copywriting. I also specialise in writing reward communications for companies’ employees to explain complex topics like employee benefits, bonus schemes, compensation, pensions etc. 

You came to us for LinkedIn strategy training. You were a regular user at the time, why did you feel you needed the support? Had you had any Linkedin success before training? I know you were connected with a range of marketers. Why did you choose us specifically?

I’d been on LinkedIn for a while but felt I wasn’t making best use of the platform as I wasn’t being particularly intentional. I’d not had any training – I’d just read lots of blogs with conflicting advice and I wanted one view based on experience that I could trust. Which is why I chose you.

Every business is different so this advice won’t work for all. What were the initial changes you implemented after training?

The single biggest thing I changed was my job title and LinkedIn profile statement thing. I changed it so it spelled out what I did, who I helped and how. I can’t remember much more as it was a while ago now.

After  while of actioning the training a piece of work came about for Coca Cola. Do you want to talk us through how that happened?

About a month after updating my profile, I received a LI message from the Global Rewards Director at Coca-Cola. This was my ideal audience in terms of role, although I had never expected to hear from a company as big as Coca-Cola! He’d searched on LinkedIn for a Total Rewards Copywriter – the exact phrase I’d included in my profile. I was one of only two people on the whole of LinkedIn with this skill set. 

We set up an initial call for a chat and then he invited me to do a day’s consultancy at Coca-Cola with a range of other reward communications specialists and copywriters. I followed up with everyone on LinkedIn after the day and made what turned out to be an important connection with someone who couldn’t make the day at Coca-Cola due to a family emergency.

They were fairly senior in an employee communications agency. They’d been using non-reward specialist copywriters to carry out their employee reward communications. But they struggled to grasp the finer points and some of the complexities. So they asked me to do some work for them. Four years on and I still regularly work for them.

Since then you’ve gone on to work with some other huge brands. To inspire others do you want to talk us through your big social media wins?

The big brands I’ve done work for have all come through this employee communications agency or another agency. So they’re not my clients. However, I’ve worked on projects for some of the biggest FMCG, tech and professional services brands in the world. These are all household names everyone will recognise. THis all came off that single change to my LI profile and everything that came afterwards.

Since our training a lot has changed. You’ve moved to the other end of the country, but we’ve still kept in touch online. Do you feel that Linkedin community is supportive compared to other platforms? I don’t think you use any other social media platforms. What is about the other platforms that just don’t help your business?

LinkedIn is the only social media platform I use for business. I’m pretty sure that was one of the things we discussed actually – where to put my eggs. And all in the LinkedIn basket was your advice and it was absolutely right. I have made some really good connections through LinkedIn and kept in touch with people – some, like you, I’ve met. Others I haven’t but it feels like I have! LinkedIn has been the main growth driver for my business.

As a former journalist I love to talk about copywriting. Why are words important in this age of video and personal branding shoots?

I think all forms of content have their place in the marketing mix. And the best copy should work beautifully with design and images. Words are a vital part of the marketing mix because copy allows people to scan and jump to the bits they find important – vital in a world where everyone’s pressed for time. And a lot of people still prefer reading over watching videos. I’m hired to write video scripts so even though video can replace some copy, there’s still a copywriting role. 

And the other hot potato. Chat GPT. What are the dangers of business saying we don’t need to pay for alex and Becky as we can just use chat got?

There’s a lot of talk about whether ChatGPT will replace writers. The reality is it’s not good enough yet for the type of work my clients want. That said, a lot of companies that just want to pump out high volumes of lower quality content to boost their SEO are already using AI to do this. But most of my work is about interviewing experts or using specific documents and specialist knowledge to create thought leadership or experience-based insight. AI can’t replicate this because it’s just churning out versions of things that have already been written about. Whereas much of what I create is new and unique.

I actually use ChatGPT in my work to help me summarise, edit or punch up the tone – but not to write anything from scratch. There’s some interesting research from marketing guru Neil Patel that shows the best performing copy is a blend of AI and human. So I don’t think AI will fully replace people who create high quality copy – it will be a tool we can use to make human output even better, and/or quicker.

One way to really stand out on Linkedin is to tell personal stories. How has talking about your passions helped – ME, rugby and sexism are what you also talk about 

I’m not sure this has helped me! Nobody has really connected with me on this basis. I’m going for a more professional approach at the moment to see how that works out with a filter of ‘will this help HR and reward Directors do their job better.’ Watch this space.

Can you talk about your favourite non marketing folk on Linkedin who blow you away with their content?

I love Kelly Swingler’s content. She’s an incredible person who shares her personal experience with burnout in HR roles. She calls herself The Burnoutologist and she’s an author, keynote speaker and she works with organisations and individuals to banish burnout. 

Katya Willems also has great content – it has a lovely, gentle, inspiring feel to it. Which chimes with her microadventure and networking event business.

Finally. There are people who have read all of this and will still think Linkedin is cringe. What would say to them?

I think it’s the least cringe social media platform.I just ignore the small number of copy and paste posts and look for crossover with people in related fields to me. As my story shows, LinkedIn provides a great starting point for interesting conversations that could be career and life changing!

You can connect with Becky Hewson-Haworth here

You connect with Alex at Altrincham HQ here

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Alex McCann

Author Alex McCann

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