So who needs a copywriter?

Someone probably told you that one picture is worth a thousand words. What they didn’t tell you is that this mainly applies to exceptional images that tell a story all by themselves. For example, Steve Jobs holding the world’s first iPhone or the man standing in front of tanks in Tiananmen Square.

While photos like that certainly have the wow factor, words still give them meaning and context. This is all the more so when it comes to the web, where content is king.  And that specifically means written content – just ask Mr Google or Mr Bing if you don’t believe it.

Beware of keyword stuffers

This is where WYC comes in. You’ll probably already know that well-written digital content is important both to attract customers and to ensure that search engines rank your website above your competitors in keyword searches. This is the art known as search engine optimisation (SEO).

There is no shortage of “SEO copywriters” who claim to be able to do this but the cheapest ones merely stuff keywords into the content in a way that actually does your website ranking more harm than good. This corny technique worked in the early days of SEO but it doesn’t fool the main search engines now. Humans know when text is contrived and so do search engine algorithms. If you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys.

All WYC copy is written in a natural, engaging style that appeals to humans and machines alike.

WYC recognises that every client’s project is unique and never takes a “one size fits all” approach to a brief, whether you are a sole trader, a charity, a public sector organisation or a business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) enterprise. WYC copywriters and SEO experts will go the extra mile to showcase your business in the best possible light.

Website design and development

We can also build websites from a simple contact page for a sole trader to a full-blown enterprise e-commerce site. All WYC websites are built to the latest mobile-first and responsive principles, meaning that your website will look good whether your potential customers are viewing it on a smartphone (like most people nowadays), tablet or a good old desktop/laptop computer.

Contact us for a free initial consultation about your digital content needs!


WYC founder Paul Gardner is a journalist, copywriter and PR consultant with more than 25 years of experience across traditional media (including newswires, national and regional press, broadcasters and Teletext) and digital content. This has included 10 years of exercising critical editorial judgements ahead of the competition in the Press Association’s fast-paced and agenda-setting breaking news environment, as well as diverse experience in online media with a good working knowledge (including Google certification) of SEO, PPC, social media management, brand management and content strategy.

His journalistic career also embraced an award-winning stint as a reporter/sub-editor at the Hampstead & Highgate Express (aka the ‘Ham & High’) as well as freelance and short-term contract work for a diverse range of clients including the BBC, ITN, Daily Mirror, Mail Online, The Guardian, Time Out, Johnston Press (Selby Times), Dennis Publishing (The Week magazine), Bauer Consumer Media, York College, York Press, Liverpool Daily Post, Manchester Evening News and Stockport Express.

Paul has adopted best practice in search engine optimisation (SEO) to build traffic for his own websites since 2005, using tools such as Google Analytics to ensure that good SEO practice and sparkling copy were maximising results on competitive keyword searches. In 2013, he joined Farnell element14 (a global B2B electronic components distributor) as a copywriter. Here he learned a great deal about digital marketing, SEO, content strategy and brand management.

All of these strands have now been woven together into a unique combination: a true wordsmith with unrivalled breadth and depth of media experience, including a recent major web content audit (22,000 pages) at the University of Nottingham. He can find the right form of words for any occasion, whether you are a sole trader, a charity, a public sector organisation or a business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) enterprise.

For a free initial consultation about your digital content needs, better call Paul!


West Yorks Comms (WYC) is a Leeds-based content service for all your editorial, PR, communications, copywriting and digital marketing needs.

Headed by Paul Gardner, a professional writer and editor with decades of journalistic and copywriting experience, WYC offers a full range of services from writing press releases and handling media inquiries to the creation of sparkling bespoke web content that will get you noticed.


Ex-Labour MPs and Panama: close but no cigar

The defection of seven backbench Labour MPs to form a new association calling itself “The Independent Group” has caused a few ripples in the mainstream media, albeit with a “funny tinged” faux pas. This isn’t a political blog so I won’t get into an analysis of the politics (although I’ll declare an interest here and say I’m a Labour member). What I will be addressing here are some of the myths that are already circulating about the group’s website and company registration.

A few internet sleuths have been looking up The Independent Group’s website domain registration, using a tool called Whois. They have discovered that details about the group’s website, theindependent.group, have been redacted and there is a mention of Panama. Understandably enough, particularly following the Panama Papers scandal that exposed industrial-scale tax evasion, people have assumed that The Independent Group have something big to hide.

What’s in a name?

Unfortunately it isn’t quite the smoking gun that these people think it is. The domain name was created and purchased through a domain registration company called Namecheap Inc. This is a perfectly legitimate company that anyone can use to register a website name (I have bought a couple of domains through them myself over the years). Buying a *.group web domain through them costs the princely sum of £7.77 (plus VAT) at current exchange rates.

Now here’s the thing. Anyone can look up the name, address, email and phone number of the owner of any website through Whois. A lot of website owners aren’t comfortable with this, especially as there are a lot of spammers, scammers and stalkers out there who abuse the system, so Namecheap offers an additional service called WhoisGuard. This anonymises the details and is based in… Panama. It doesn’t mean that the website itself is registered in Panama. Note also that anyone who needs to contact the website owner to serve a notice can still contact them via the abuse@namecheap.com address.

Of course it’s legitimate to ask why a political group feels the need to hide behind an anonymisation service but it simply isn’t true that funds can be secretly squirrelled away in offshore accounts via this facility. All that is being hidden here is the contact details for a website domain registration that costs less than £8 per year.

So the Panama connection isn’t really a smoking gun, it’s just an easy assumption to make when you don’t understand how website registration works. Tell your friendly neighbourhood tinfoil hat wearer that it’s more like a clown’s gun with a flag that says “Bang!”

Another myth that has spread about the website is that it was registered in 2015. This is completely false. As you can see on the screenshot of the Whois record, it was actually registered on 10 February, 2019.

Mover and Shuker

The Independent Group is currently operated through a private company called Gemini A Ltd, which at the moment is owned solely by Gavin Shuker MP (one of the original seven defectors). It was created on 16 January 2019, as you can see from the Companies House record.

It is registered at 3rd Floor, 1 Ashley Road, Altrincham, Cheshire, United Kingdom, WA14 2DT, which turns out to be above a Wetherspoon’s pub. This is just a correspondence address and there are 200 companies registered there, according to Companies House. It’s not actually clear at the time of writing whether JD Wetherspoon plc owns the entire building or simply owns or rents the ground floor. It doesn’t particularly matter either way, however, as maildrop facilities of this kind are a fairly common and perfectly legal operation.

The Independent Group’s registered address is in an office above this Wetherspoon’s pub, The Unicorn, in Altrincham. (Google)

So this is a private limited company, which is registered in the UK. There is nothing wrong with that as such. What is rather more controversial is that “The Independent Group” is operating as a private company and isn’t registered as a political party, which means that it isn’t subject to the same scrutiny by the Electoral Commission and by Parliament as a registered political party would be. A private limited company does have to publish accounts but as this is such a new company, it is under no obligation to publish accounts for quite a while. This is where people need to focus their attention if they want to scrutinise exactly what this group of MPs is up to.

Buyer beware – cheap deals can be costly

Cheap copywriters can cost you more. As with so many other purchases, money saved on buying the cheapest writers out there is often a false economy. You then end up having to shell out again to hire someone competent to get the work done properly. In other words: “Buy cheap, buy twice.”  The hidden costs can come to more than just rewriting bad copy too, especially if the writer hasn’t kept up to date with our ever-changing and increasingly complex media law.

Quality seldom comes cheap
Penny wise, pound foolish?

You may be able to find cheaper writers (although WYC rates are very competitive), but the hard-earned reputation of your brand could be at stake through sloppy content, your web presence could be harmed by out-of-date SEO practices like keyword stuffing, and an incompetent writer could even cause you costly lawyers’ bills.  

I would strongly recommend hiring writers that have worked in journalism, as journalists have a very solid grounding in all aspects of media law as well as the ability to write for a wide range of markets and customer profiles.

Too good to be true

Confession time here. Even people who consider themselves pretty canny can be a sucker for a ‘bargain’ when caught off guard. I had one such lapse last year, when I took out some cheap breakdown cover for a car I had just bought and didn’t fully trust for the long drive from Yorkshire to Somerset and back. I was working as stage crew at Glastonbury Festival, which is a much better experience than being a paying punter these days – but that’s another story.

“So why didn’t you just use the AA or RAC?” you might justifiably ask. I had used my insurer’s breakdown cover for several years, which was a much better deal than the mainstream breakdown services if you wanted the equivalent of the AA’s full ‘Relay’ service. But I had also changed my car insurer, as my previous insurer wasn’t matching the best quotes any more. Unfortunately, the new insurer’s breakdown cover was much more expensive than the previous company’s and, as I was taking a couple of weeks of unpaid holiday (one of the banes of being a freelancer), I was on the lookout for a cheap alternative.

You’re fired!

Enter Dynamo Cover Ltd (trading as RecoverCover), which I now know is led by former Apprentice contestant Alex Mills and run from a small business park unit in the seaside resort of Barry, South Wales. It seemed a very good deal on their website – for about £34, I could cover my humble Peugeot 206 for Roadside Assistance, National Recovery, Home Assist, Alternative Travel and Overnight Accommodation. Evidently it was a little too good to be true  the nearly three pages of exclusion clauses should have been a flashing neon warning sign. But the cover was only bought on a last-minute whim for peace of mind. Besides, for just £34, what could possibly go wrong?

Dynamo Cover HQ
Dynamo Cover’s HQ is a unit in this Barry business park. (Credit: Google Maps)

Unexpected item in credit card area

Fortunately I didn’t have any cause to use RecoverCover’s service, which is just as well as their Trustpilot ratings here and here are shocking. There are so many catches, excesses and get-out clauses that it’s hard to envisage anything that you are covered for. In my defence, I took out cover starting 16 June 2017 and the first of very many bad reviews didn’t appear until August 2017.

But the worst was yet to come. I had pretty much forgotten about this company until Saturday, 9 June 2018, when I received an email thanking me for renewing their cover (which I absolutely had not done), to start on 16 June 2018, and telling me £29.90 had been taken from my credit card.  I rang their hotline immediately to say that I had not authorised this payment or the renewal and I wanted my money refunding, but just heard a recorded message saying their office hours were Monday to Friday.

Know your rights

So I emailed them to say I had not authorised the renewal or the payment and immediately contacted my credit card provider to exercise my right to cancel the payment and any ‘Continuous Payment Authority’ claimed by RecoverCover. 

By Monday morning, RecoverCover had woken up.  Shannon, their customer sales manager, insisted that if the card provider issues a chargeback, they would still pursue me for this money for this “service” that I did not order and which in my opinion is not worth the pixels it is written on. In a later phone conversation with another employee called Chris, I was even told that I could still cancel the so-called “cover” but I would not get my money back(!) and there would be an additional £6.99 cancellation fee for the privilege.

The dispute is still ongoing, so I won’t go into further details just yet, but I believe that consumer law is on my side and I will eventually get my money (plus costs) back, despite the best efforts of RecoverCover/Dynamo to hang on to it. The amounts involved are small, of course, but it’s the principle that matters and costs may escalate if it ends up in court.

So let this be a cautionary tale about false economies, whatever line of business you’re looking at. It will often cost you more in the long run. 

Oh, and if any former Apprentice contestants are reading this YOU’RE FIRED!

Bitcoin: will the bubble burst?

Bitcoin frenzy: human thumbs popping bubblewrap
Will the Bitcoin bubble burst or keep inflating?

Suddenly everyone is an expert on Bitcoin after the cryptocurrency surged past the $10,0000 mark this week, peaking at $11,000 before tumbling down to $9,442 at the time of writing. Not bad for a currency that started the year valued at $1,000.

Amid all the feeding frenzy, there is no shortage of advice by self-appointed experts on this cyberspace gold rush. There are essentially two camps – in the blue corner, we have the conventional market traders who are trash talking this upstart currency; while in the red, we have the Bitcoin traders who are keen to drum up new business.

Bubbles everywhere

The inevitable point of contention is whether the Bitcoin surge is the sign of a new bubble. Most people have heard the stories of the original South Sea Bubble, the Tulip Bulb Craze, the Wall Street Crash, the dotcom crash and so on.

Conventional traders who missed the Bitcoin bandwagon are saying it is indeed a bubble, while the enthusiasts are insisting that this phenomenon is like nothing that has ever happened before.

This author has seen one such enthusiast’s viral post on Facebook insisting that cryptocurrency can’t have the same end result as the Tulip Bulb Craze because it isn’t a flower (well, duh!) and, more specifically, that it’s a revolutionary new technology.

In a Gish gallop of rapid-fire logical fallacies, he went on to say that the world’s first web browser was launched in 1993 and that it would change the world; that in 1997 “they” didn’t foresee that an upstart internet company called Netflix would one day wipe out the mighty Blockbuster video rental chain…  you get the picture. “They” didn’t see those things coming, therefore “they” are going to miss out on the wondrous, never-ending bonanza of the blessed blockchain.

The same sort of logic is often used by pseudoscience pushers who say that “they” laughed at Einstein or “they” laughed at the Wright brothers – and that therefore the pseudoscience merchant will one day be vindicated too. Yes, but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown. Being laughed at or ignored doesn’t mean that it will have the same outcome as history’s famous vindications.

It’s all about confidence

Despite being an economics graduate from a Russell Group university, I haven’t a clue how the long-term future of Bitcoin will pan out. If you have money to spare to gamble on the future, go for it, I’m not your Dad. What I will say, however, is that despite all the protestations that Bitcoin is somehow “different”, the commodity value of anything that is traded – whether it’s gold, fiat currency, houses or cryptocurrency – depends heavily on confidence. As long as the confidence is there, happy days. When the confidence isn’t there… oh dear. The latter is especially the case if you put all your eggs in one basket and you spent money you didn’t have in the hope of getting rich quick.

We have been here before. Joe Kennedy, a famous investor in the early 20th century, sold all his shares after a shoeshine boy gave him some stock tips. He figured that when the shoeshine boys have tips, the market is too popular for its own good and it was time to get out.

Another commentator, Bernard Baruch, described the conversations he was hearing before the Wall Street Crash of 1929: “Taxi drivers told you what to buy. The shoeshine boy could give you a summary of the day’s financial news as he worked with rag and polish. An old beggar who regularly patrolled the street in front of my office now gave me tips and, I suppose, spent the money I and others gave him in the market. My cook had a brokerage account and followed the ticker closely. Her paper profits were quickly blown away in the gale of 1929.”

Fast forward to today and Facebook is full of free advice from people urging you to invest in Bitcoin and get on the ladder while you still can.

But, ominously, one broker quoted in Forbes said: “A month before the 1987 crash, my cab driver said he started day trading. A month before the real estate crash in 2007 in Arizona, my cab driver said he was getting into flipping real estate. Last week, my Uber driver said he just started trading Bitcoin.”

You can argue that, being a venture capitalist, he has a vested interest in putting you off Bitcoin. OK, fair enough. It’s your money, you decide. But remember that “free” advice can actually prove very costly.



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