In an age of unprecedented communication and information exchange, words are some of your most important tools. The right words can go a long way towards easing a situation; the wrong ones can cause untold damage.
But words are more than just my tools: they’re my passion and my product. I’m a word factory; a one-stop word shop. And when I need extra hands on deck, I harness the collective expertise of a virtual team of experienced, specialist writers and editors to produce, sharpen and clarify my clients’ communication and content needs.
WHO WE ARE
Mandy Collins has a B.Journ from Rhodes and
a BA (Hons) in Sociolinguistics from UNISA. Her roots are in journalism, but
she has spent more than 20 years writing and editing work across a wide range
of genres, sectors and disciplines, and worked in the print and broadcast
media, commercial and academic spheres. She is the author of a number of books,
for children and adults, and has a passion for plain language and an approach
that favours clear written communication with impact.
After a long career as a successful
freelance writer, she has broadened her focus beyond writing for the media,
noting that in all spheres of society, people write more than they ever did
before, but don’t necessarily have the expertise and tools they require to
write well, and with confidence.
Mandy’s experience as a writer and editor for the media and beyond, has left her not just with superb writing and editing skills, but the ability to strategise and formulate messaging in a way that simplifies complex ideas with great accuracy and impact. She has a deep understanding of content curation, and great empathy for the reader, ensuring that your communication lands exactly as it is intended to be understood. Furthermore, after years of briefing and commissioning writers, she has a network of specialist writers to call on, who have the requisite knowledge and understanding of a broad range of industries, and are eager to lend their talent to various content projects.
Mandy is driven by her passion for great
writing – because in a world of information overload, great writing is what
rises to the top of the pile. She loves nothing more than to produce content
that is easy to read, engages its audience, and delivers a message that is
persuasive, informative and valuable.
“Tribeca Public Relations has asked Mandy to teach writing skills to our staff across all levels because we value her straightforward, no-nonsense, yet gentle approach, the relevance and practicality of her course matter, and the insights into media that she shares so generously.” – Kerry Haggard, Content Development Manager,Tribeca Public Relations
“Most companies struggle to communicate clearly. Mandy Collins cuts through verbosity to provide clear, concise communication that reaches all stakeholders. She has a rare skill to de-clutter in a cluttered world.” – Bruce Whitfield, award-winning financial journalist and host of The Money Show, 702
“Mandy Collins is an excellent writer and editor, with a sensitivity to getting the story right, and a diligence and commitment to content. I can recommend her without reservation for any project or to any organisation that values excellence, attention to detail and a meticulous appreciation for producing a quality product.” – Samantha Page, Group Editor Health, John Brown Media
“Mandy Collins & Associates is a reliable writing and content creation company that understands deadlines. Mandy is an experienced, well-respected wordsmith. Her service delivery over many years in different writing-related capacities has always been professional and on brief. She is a valued member of Twisted Toast’s independent network of specialist writers and content creators and it is with surety that we recommend her.” – Kim Browne, CEO, Twisted Toast
“I have had
the privilege of working with Mandy on several social video projects for our
key clients. Her ability to work off sometimes flimsy briefs, providing
brilliant work every time, is nothing short of outstanding. Her sharp mind,
command of language and sense of humour make working with her a pleasure.
“She is my go-to copywriter for our major, and even minor, projects. I wouldn’t work with anyone else.” – James Lennox, CEO and Founder, MILK+SUGAR
CLIENTS PAST AND PRESENT
Podcast from SAfm – Language & Clear Communication Listen to the podcast here
702/Cape Talk discussions with Bruce Whitfield Listen to our discussion about sharpening your business language skills here.
Listen to our discussion about digital communication etiquette here.
Saints Screened on SABC in 2018, produced by Get Reel Productions.
Content production and review
I provide an added, deeper layer of content production and review that ensures your communication is not only high quality and accurate, but also strategically designed to communicate as effectively as possible, in a way that protects your reputation.
Most content writers take a workmanlike approach to the job. They are briefed a topic, a word count and a deadline, and they deliver to that brief.
Similarly, most editors work in the media, or comms/content space, and fulfil, primarily, a quality assurance role. Again, it’s workmanlike – they pay attention to things like language, punctuation, consistency of style, tone and formatting.
I do both of those things, but I bring a number of extras:
High EQ and the ability to empathise with the intended reader/hearer;
Expertise in sociolinguistics;
A good working knowledge of South African language and culture;
More than two decades of experience across a variety of industries and sectors;
A strategic approach.
Most communication goes out with a view to a company or brand considering what they want to say; how they want to be positioned.
I bring the receiver back into the equation. I write and review content with an eye to ensure that while the message goes out as a company intends, it also ensures that the reader/listener – the receiver – is being considered, and that it lands in the most accurate way possible.
So clients get top-notch, nuts-and-bolts, workmanlike writing and editing, but they also get something much deeper. I take the words – the message – and turn them into true communication.
Decades of experience in consumer and business-to-business journalism make me a sought-after content strategist.
I know exactly how to plan content, how to angle it for a particular audience, how to take their feedback and incorporate it into future strategy. In addition, I’m an old hand at project managing content producers and ensuring everything is delivered on time, to the highest standard.
Many of my clients aren’t content or communication specialists, but they know they need to be putting out content, or they want to be. I can work with them to take the difficult part of this off their shoulders, so that they can pay attention to their core business and know that their content needs are being taken care of in the background.
I can advise you on how to brighten your content and help you to plan so it goes the distance. Here are some examples of work I can do – if your needs aren’t on the list, get in touch! If I can help, I will.
Marketing Material – I can write, edit and proofread all of your marketing material to ensure it hits the right note and aligns with your key messaging, while still being accessible to a broad readership.
Website Copy – I’ll write – or rewrite – your website copy to ensure your presence on the web accurately represents what you’re about and who you’d like to reach, while making sure it’s a valuable tool for your customers and clients.
Internal & External Communications –I’ll help you to craft your company’s messaging so that it’s accurate and effective, with the right tone, and does exactly what it intends to do.
Change Management Communications –When you’ve planned that big change, communicating it to those affected is one of the most important steps. I’ll help you to communicate in language that is simple, clear, compassionate and empathetic.
Plain Language Services – I’m skilled at demystifying jargon and making it accessible to the ordinary reader, without oversimplifying. I can help you to communicate better with lay readers.
Training Manuals – I can help you to write these or edit them to ensure they are accurate, clear, and easy to understand.
Annual & Integrated Report Writing –Tell me what you need and who you need it from, and I will deliver the text, ready for design.
Speech & Presentation Writing – Whether you need help with a keynote address or a difficult presentation, I will help you to structure your script, add an element of storytelling, and ensure you keep your audience engaged throughout.
B2B Magazine Articles – I am hooked into a wide network of specialist writers in a broad range of topics. Whether you’re filling editorial or advertorial pages, I can help you to write a great story.
Virtual Editor-in-Chief – I can help you put that special editorial or advertising supplement together and produce edited, design-ready content that is as professional as the top-class writers and editors in my network.
Social Media Posts – You could do these yourself – but they take time, energy and expertise, and you’d rather be focusing on your core business. Let me help you to plan and write your posts, and all you have to do is post them!
Internal & External Newsletters – It takes time and energy to chase your staff and stakeholders to give you the information, pictures and other content you need. Outsource it! I’m an expert at wheedling information out of people, writing to a brief, and striking just the right note of professionalism and accessibility – on deadline!
Editing & Proofreading – Mistakes can be costly, and they don’t look professional, or convey a sense that you pay attention to detail. I’ll cast my beady eyes over your content, or signage, or anything you’ve written, and ensure it’s error-free. My quality control services exist to make you look good.
Corporate Video Scripts – Need a script for a company video? I’ll write something that incorporates all of your key messaging and brand promises, from motivating your sales force, to wowing clients, to showcasing your products or services on your website.
Documentary Scripts – You have a vision of what you want your documentary to be about, you have all the footage and the interviews transcribed – but stringing it all together isn’t your strength? I’ll find that golden thread and write your footage into a beautiful story.
Radio Ads – I’ll find just the right words to take your ad concept from blah to “theatre of the mind”, creating ads that are short, sharp and memorable.
Business Writing We write more than ever – but nobody ever teaches us how. Most employees are required to spend time writing emails, reports, presentations and proposals, among other things, but no one ever teaches them how to do it well.
Poor written communication decreases productivity and efficiency, as clients, colleagues and suppliers waste time deciphering error-ridden, jargon-filled, opaque writing that just doesn’t get the job done. It has a negative impact on your brand image and reputation – and it’s costing you money.
I can give everyone in your organisation – from the CEO down – the tools and skills they need to write clear, accurate, professional communication that gets the right kind of response from the people reading it.
Basic PR Writing Not all communications qualifications are created equal, and there’s something of a gap in the courses out there – which don’t put a significant focus on writing. This short course is perfect for junior public relations practitioners who want relevant, practical writing tools they will use every day. We’ll look at the whole process of writing – from research through to editing, as well as basic news values, how the media works, and what they do and don’t want from PR people.
Creativity Workshops If you work in any area of marketing or communications, chances are you have to put out the same message day in and day out – and find different ways to do that. This fun, practical workshop helps you to understand how creativity works, what your own personal creative process is, and how you and your team can use each other’s creative strengths to find new, fun ways to get your message out.
Writing Training for Communicators This course is a more intense, in-depth version of the PR writing course, and will give participants a good grounding in news, feature, and opinion writing.
General Communications Training Tell me what you need, and I’ll combine elements of all of the above – and more – to equip and inspire your communications team with the skills they need.
Individual Writing Coaching Whether you’re writing a thesis, a work of fiction or non-fiction, or just want to brush up your transactional and business writing skills, I offer individual one-on-one coaching in the greater Johannesburg area, or via Zoom elsewhere.
Communication skills for post-graduate students A one-and-a-half day communication bootcamp for master’s and PhD students that covers writing and presentation skills, visual and verbal communication, with tips for laying out posters and crafting elevator pitches.
ONLINE WRITING COURSES
Perfect for individuals who want to invest in their own writing skills, or for those who prefer to work at their own pace, my online business writing courses give you the same content as the face-to-face sessions, with the flexibility to work whenever and wherever it suits you.
ONLINE BUSINESS WRITING
ONLINE BUSINESS WRITING MODULE OUTLINES
Module 1: Modern business correspondence. We all have views on what constitutes good business writing. This module looks at what is required in the new business world and challenges any antiquated beliefs you may be clinging to. (Core module)
Module 2: Preparing to write a report. Prepare well and your report will write itself. This module explores the important steps you need to take before you begin to write.
Module 3: Structuring your writing. Turn old notions about structure on their head – learn how to get to the point quickly and use techniques from professional writers to get your message across. (Core module)
Module 4: Secrets of great business writing. These are the nuts and bolts of good writing –word economy, things to avoid, getting to the point, and using plain English instead of ancient, jargon-filled, opaque writing. (Core module)
Module 5: Five steps to great report writing. This module looks at the five steps you need to follow to ensure your report does the job, as well as some important points on writing, re-writing and why people should read your report in the first place.
Module 6: Make the right impression. No matter how well your report is written, it needs to be presented well if it’s going to seem attractive to the reader. Here are some tips on layout, grammar, spelling and punctuation, all of which need to be in place. But don’t worry – this is nothing like going back to school; it’s just help with some common errors, with helpful tips and pointers. (Core module)
Module 7: The business of e-mails. E-mails have revolutionised the workplace, but they’re also abused, badly written and sent off in too much haste. Here are some pointers for powerful e-mail writing. (Core module)
Module 8: Generate your own press releases. Not everyone can afford a PR agency. We look at what journalists want, a little about how news decisions are made, and give you some tips and tools for writing your own press releases.
Module 9: Bad writing and your brand. Company employees produce a lot of writing on a daily basis and even the smallest badly-written e-mail can damage your brand. Here’s why good business writing is so important, plus we give you some tips for writing for social media, including blogs and company newsletters. (Core module)
Module 10: Some final pointers. We remind you of the most important points we’ve covered, and tie everything up in a neat little bundle. (Core module)
A. Business Writing Core Modules
Module 1: Modern business correspondence Module 3: Structuring your writing Module 4: Secrets of great business writing Module 6: Make the right impression Module 7: The business of e-mail Module 9: Bad writing and your brand/social media Module 10: Some final pointers
Cost: R5 750
B. Business Writing including Report Writing
If you need help with report writing specifically we add the following two modules to the seven core modules:
Module 2: Preparing to write a report Module 5: Five steps to great report writing
Cost: R7 290
C. Core Business Writing including Writing a Press Release
For those who want help with press releases we add the following module to the seven core modules:
Module 8: Generating your own press releases
Cost: R6 520
D. Comprehensive Business Writing package
Includes all 10 modules.
Cost: R7 700
ONLINE WRITING FOR COMMUNICATORS
This nine-module course is perfect for juniors in the comms, public relations and marketing professions who want relevant, practical writing tools they will use every day. We cover the whole process of writing – from research through to editing, as well as basic news values, and to write for the media. Seven of the nine modules carry short assignments where you’ll get personalised feedback.
Module 1: Preparing to write
Before you write, you need to prepare – how to plan your writing, and conduct research and interviews.
Module 2: Understanding the media
If you’re writing for the media, it helps to understand how they work, what they need from you, and what will irritate you. We also look at news values so you can understand why some things are covered and others aren’t.
Module 3: Structuring your writing I (the shape of stories)
Here we look at how to figure out what information goes where and how to make it all flow nicely.
Module 4: Structuring your writing II
First impressions matter – which is why learning to write a strong intro is a non-negotiable. And once you have that, how do you write the rest of the piece?
Module 5: Words matter
Tips and tricks for choosing words that give your writing energy and clarity.
Module 6: Editing and revising
This is where the magic happens. Learn about the ABCs of great writing and how to achieve them through editing and revising.
Module 7: Language matters
Why accurate use of language matters, and some common errors that trip people up.
Module 8: Writing a release
How to write a great media release that has the best chance of being picked up.
Module 9: The business of emails
There’s an art to writing great emails that rise to the top of the deluge in other people’s inboxes. Learn how to get your structure, tone and language in the best shape.