An Almost-True Story About A “Copy” Editor

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May, 2022 * Volume II, Number 5

Dear Original Reader,

Can you believe May is already coming to an end? And before June busts out all over, as Rogers & Hammerstein famously suggested, here’s this month’s edition of your favorite news-free newsletter, Word PLAY!

In it, you’ll learn the secret to everlasting success, as well as which type of permit you need in order to send something to every box holder in the county.


Joking aside, THANK YOU for reading, and for making Firewords Creative Copy your go-to source for the words that win and the funny that makes money. I am humbled by your support, and seriously grateful for your business.

- Michael

Michael D. Hume, M.S.
Senior Author and Copy Boy
Firewords Creative Copy

Meanwhile, in this edition of Word PLAY...

An Almost-True Story About A "Copy" Editor

Word PLAY… Playful Monthly Commentary
On Persuasive Copy For YOUR Business


When I was a young lad of 21, I was living in a small town in southern Colorado and running a weekly newspaper. “Weakly,” we often quipped.

The name of the newspaper was the Southern Colorado Weekly News. Catchy, huh?

A competing editor moved from The Big City into a neighboring town in my coverage area, and started a weekly newspaper. He named his paper the Southern Colorado News. He copied everything I did, from the type fonts I used for headlines, to the look of my “logo” in the nameplate of the paper on Page One.

By pretty-much copying my business’s name and logo, which somehow he got away with, this guy was able to steal quite a bit of business from me, at least at first.

He’d call up my advertisers and take their order for “The News,” and they thought they were just renewing their ads in my paper. But by the time I called for the renewal, they’d already given my competitor the ad. (He always said he’d like payment in advance, so they’d also already paid him.)

My paper didn’t have “subscribers,” as such. It was mailed third-class to every box holder in the county, which was typical in those days. So the competitor bought himself a third class permit (they gave those out to anybody), and did the same thing.

Now, I can assure you, my paper was a much higher-quality product, and you’ll just have to take my word for it. Would I lie? But seriously, it was.

For instance, I would actually call people up, get quotes, and write my own news stories. Brand X just typed up whatever corporate or government press releases he received in the mail, and THAT was the “Southern Colorado News” he mailed to every box holder in the county. (He did add some typos, for extra originality.)

Some advertisers wanted to run their ads in both papers (why not, given the ridiculous discount my competitor offered). But Brand X didn’t have to do any ad design or “paste up,” as we called it back then… he just got the advertiser’s permission to copy their ads out of my paper.

Nefarious blackguard!

My newspaper’s owners and I were eventually able to recapture (and grow) our business, and drive this turkey out of town. Last I heard, he was selling water softeners or something. And here’s how we did it:

We put some personality into our newspaper, and even a little humor on the opinion pages, courtesy a column written by Yours Truly called Sense And Hume-or.

It was way back then that I learned this important fact of business life: Your competitor can copy just about everything you do, from the name of your business down to the prices you charge… but they can’t copy your personality.

People buy everything from cars to newspapers to chicken wings from people they like. And people tend to like people who have a likeable personality, especially if those likeable people are willing to share that personal side of themselves with their customers or clients.

I didn’t really have a point, I just like telling this story. Oh, wait, I guess my point would be that YOU (yes, YOU) could share some of your likeable, fun-loving personality with YOUR prospects and customers by funnying-up your marketing copy a little.

Think about that! Funny newsletters and blog articles get much more readership (and positive exposure) than whatever boring dreck Brand X is serving up.

Nothing makes money like funny!

Key Take-Aways From This Edition

  • When you wash out of the newspaper business, you can always sell water softeners.
  • Third class mailing permits are handed out freely. You might have one in the bottom of your shopping bag, and not even know it.
  • Your competitor can copy just about every part of the “brand” you’ve worked so hard to build… but they can’t copy your likeable, witty, charming personality!
  • You can actually share that likeable personality in your marketing copy! At this writing, there is not a single law against doing just that.

Want more Key Take-Aways? Of course you do. And you’ll get them in next month’s edition of Word PLAY!


Discussion Questions

  1. 1
    Don’t you wish your competitor would copy the invoices you get from vendors, and pay them?
  2. 2
    How long do you think it would take to copy a water softener? Show your math
  3. 3
    Is it time to funny-up your marketing copy a bit, so your business can always stand out from your competitors as the “fun-to-work-with” company?

Send your answers to The most creative, inspirational response will be eligible to win a PRIZE! *

(* Prize is at the sole discretion of Michael Hume, his heirs and assigns, and a select group of small-town newspaper editors and water softener repair specialists. This month’s Grand Prize is so Grand it cannot be described by the naked eye, so there’s no point in trying to describe it here. Entries copied off your neighbor’s paper will be disqualified, and possibly generate a lawsuit. But don’t let that scare you… just have fun with it! Deadline is not an option. Boring, lackluster, or unimaginative entries will be copied and sent to every box holder in the county. They’ll all laugh and scorn. Who needs that? So send your best stuff. Good luck!)

Last Month’s Grand Prize Winner: Stephen R. from Denver won with this, for obvious reasons: “A nicely done flow of marketing pieces could be just what my diabetes doctor ordered instead of the dessert about which you have tempted me. I think that we need to talk about the details at your convenience.” Score! Call to claim your prize, Steve. And to talk about the details!

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I write HUME-orous marketing copy for happy clients who take their professions very seriously… but whose customers like and trust them because they don’t take themselves too seriously. Want more info? Get in touch…

Call me: (303) 478-8702
Email me:
Investigate me:
Copy my water softener: 195 South Rancho Vista Drive, Pueblo West, CO 81007

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Copyright 2022 by Michael D. Hume, M.S. All rights reserved.
Like a classic 1980s pop song, Word PLAY! is never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down
FireWords Creative Copy, 195 South Rancho Vista Drive , Pueblo West, CO 81007, United States

Michael D. Hume, M.S.

Michael Hume is a freelance writer, singer, and songwriter, and author of The 95th Christmas. He's an honor graduate of the Defense Information School, and holds an M.S. from the University of Colorado School of Business. Michael is the author of hundreds of online articles, including the popular series Great Leadership Requires Inspiration, The Conscience of a Restorationist, Appreciate Your Adversaries, and Take Care of Your Business.

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