August 14

Copywriting, editorial and consulting


Writing Consultant
In brief

Good writing makes business sense. It’s shorter. It’s quicker. It’s unambiguous. And it can be learned, provided we first unlearn the bad habits acquired from old-fashioned bosses or ill-trained bloggers.

Sydney-based writing coach Stephanie Oley offers several tried and tested frameworks designed to lift your writing techniques. Workshops range from in-house to public and motivational.

Drawing on her background in magazine journalism, radio and copywriting, Stephanie’s original courses include marketing, business, media and presentation writing, complete with original workbook.

Any course can be customised. All come with rigorous upfront client consultation and post-workshop feedback.

Did we mention?

When not consulting, Stephanie is creative partner at The Offices, where you’ll find her latest copywriting across a range of media. Offline, Stephanie stays busy exploring her passion for design, culture and community, and rambling about Sydney with her young family. She has several fiction manuscripts in progress.


Scribbles from Stephanie's notepad 


Stephanie offers a mix of in-house and public writing workshops, all replete with her original textbooks. Talk to her about customised writing, speaking and editing gigs too.


1. In-house workshops

Got six or so people in need of training? Or a very specific brand voice, project or goal to develop? Ask about the bespoke workshops, where Stephanie’s core presentations are adapted to carry examples from your organisation or industry.

Email moc.yeloeinahpetsnull@olleh to request a brochure on copywriting for marketers, writing for business, writing for the media and delivering a presentation. Rates are shown for full-day, half-day and hourly training.

2. Public workshops

Since 2006, Stephanie has presented several full-day writing workshops at The University of Sydney’s Centre for Continuing Education. Click on the links below for course descriptions, rates and upcoming dates.

Persuasive Marketing Materials

Effective Business Reports

Write and Promote a Media Release

3. Speaking

Whether you need a presentation for humour, hype or help, Stephanie’s extensive public speaking experience places her comfortably in front of any audience. Perhaps you want your people to get excited about writing better, or need a workshop on effective emails or better online bios? Just ask about the possibilities.

4. Writing

Long and short, content and catch-lines, websites and wobblers: Stephanie’s writing folio spans various formats and styles. See a selection of work here. Visit The Offices to browse her latest work, or download her portfolio below.


Stephanie Oley






Why your numbers don’t tell the full story

Using numbers to support business happenings.

Using numbers to support business happenings (Flickr).

Interpreting data is a balance of science and art – of knowing when to question the figures, and when to let them speak for themselves.


At an in-house training workshop recently, I found myself grappling with a participant’s question on how to tell the ‘story’ of numbers. I’ve been mulling the question ever since.

It’s simple when the numbers say good things – sales are up, business leads have multiplied, productivity has grown. It’s also easy when the increments are big – 20 per cent, double, three-fold.

But when the numbers deliver news that might mislead, befuddle or disappoint executives or business partners, it’s time to get creative. You could group several categories if they are weak individually, to imply a trend. Or you could search for numbers that illustrate the flip side of an occurrence.

What you’re realising by now is this: numbers alone don’t tell stories. Circumstances do. When asked to interpret any data, your first task should be to find the reasons, people, trends, beliefs and other circumstances surrounding those numbers.

Draw on different kinds of research to do this, such as qualitative, applied and conceptual, either to flesh out a hypothesis or to find relationships between different groups of data. Here’s a closer look.


Scenario #1: You have a hypothesis.

Starting with a hypothesis gives you some direction. Say you’ve been tasked with proving that a beleaguered TV network does offer commercial merit for potential advertisers. You know that audience numbers for the network are down overall, but you’ve heard anecdotally that some of their new shows are faring well.

You could use your analytical research skills to break the numbers down further – to uncover what demographic is tuning in, which shows are doing well, and which ones are flat-lining. You could then harness your qualitative research skills, perhaps designing a field study or interviewing a focus group to uncover why those shows are popular, and how their success compares with similar programming at rival networks. You could broaden the research field further to include correlational research (see P5 of this SlideShare presentation), and try to identify a social trend that mirrors what’s happening in your business.

With these facts in hand, edit your hypothesis and you’ll see you  have something to talk about – a newly female-centric audience, an evolving program lineup that’s ditching the old and embracing the new, a new breed of celebrity that’s drawing a cult following. That’s your story.


Scenario #2: No hypothesis, all loose ends.

When there’s no hypothesis and only raw numbers, your foremost task is to find comparisons, groups, likenesses. For example, you might be writing an annual report that seeks to explain why sales volumes are up, but corporate revenue is down.

You could start by going back to your quantitative figures, and see what insights you gain from grouping categories differently. Do you get  more pronounced highs or lows in the data when looking at only new-release product sales, or at product lines that invested in marketing? Next, you could use empirical research to compare different fields over one year or several years – to identify which divisions did well, which ones underperformed and which increased expenses have led to the revenue decline. You might then use analytical research to find out why those numbers are up or down – for example, the managerial issues that caused one division to use extra contractors for the year, the R&D expenses that went over budget (but are forecast to bring profits back in line soon), the skills shortages that affected productivity that year.

You now have a hypothesis – which you should re-test, of course – and a story emerging of a trend happening in your business that might otherwise have remained hidden.



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