A blog post by a fellow copywriter from the U.K. inspired me to write this entry today. The questions of "What do you do?" or "What is a copywriter?" are not unusual.
First of all, I am not a lawyer who works with copyrights. Copywriters work with copy--with text that promotes and sells in some fashion. They come up with concepts to convey the sales message, in tandem with the art director who conceives the visuals that complete the website, TV commercials, or print project. Then they write the words that speak to that concept. It used to be that the term "copywriter" implied "advertising" but this is not always the case anymore (although I got my start in ad agencies).
So what does a copywriter do? As a freelance copywriter I write: tag lines, print ads, headlines, and online banner ads; in-store signage, table tents, and other point-of-sale materials; other people's blog posts, websites, white papers, and articles--and more. (I am standing by for TV and radio spots.) If the medium has words that sell, promote, educate, or inform, it requires a copywriter to put virtual pen to paper (and sometimes a real one to get the creative juices flowing). Sometimes I get to brainstorm the concepts with an art director or hash out layout ideas with a graphic designer (like the old days) but often I work solo, writing to a website design or creating headlines that will inform the layout. I work with a rich assortment of accounts and the people behind them, and flex my writing muscles as the brand voice behind these accounts.
I had a wonderful career in ad agencies, first in Atlanta (long ago and far away, before there were word processors and the World Wide Web, and cable TV was an emerging media outlet) and then in New York. I had the opportunity to flourish creatively writing print ads, radio and TV spots, concept ads for consumer package goods, and print collateral. I got to work on a broad array of accounts. It was a blast. I still have two hand-rendered animation cels from a children's cereal commercial I wrote hanging over my desk.
I still write the words that inform, promote, and ultimately, sell products and services. But in today's incredibly diverse communications landscape, copywriters must be more versatile to meet the demands of the marketing domain . . . and many small businesses are not putting their money behind paid advertising in the historic sense. Today it's about being able to cross over into other marketing arenas such as public relations or corporate communications. Whichever route clients take to market their messages, copywriters will be there to guide them.