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Copywriter


Description

When watching television, do you ever find yourself humming along to a catchy advertising jingle, which then stays in your head all day? Chances are, you have been caught singing along with the muffler shop's ditty or with a food store's well-known song. Certain advertisements in magazines and newspapers project and promote slogans, brands and logos that we have grown so accustomed to that they seem like a part of our daily lives. The Nike swoosh with its associated slogan "just do it" or the Tommy Hilfiger logo and models seem to be everywhere these days.

Yet have you ever stopped to wonder who writes these advertisements and shapes our branded world? It is copywriters who create the written content for different mediums, such as television, films, radio, magazines, CD-ROMs, brochures, billboards, websites and newspapers. They present messages to mass audiences to promote the sale of goods and services, and generally promote and maintain positive images of their client organizations.

Copywriters are skilled in the art of persuasive writing. Their messages are as powerful as freight trains and truly influence consumers. Copywriters do more than randomly plunk key phrases into a copy; they convince people through their words to buy products or act in a certain way. In addition to writing advertisements, promotional materials and merchandising materials, copywriters may write publicity releases, informational brochures or trade journal articles. These materials may appear in a variety of formats, including Internet home pages. Copywriters are everywhere -- from advertising firms to politician's campaign offices, creating words for other people to use.

Copywriters work closely with designers, art directors and other writers to conceive of and create provocative, world-class copy concepts for interactive marketing media, including Web sites, banner advertisements, direct emails and other online marketing initiatives. They are professional communicators who grasp communications challenges and devise imaginative solutions. At times, copywriters may be called upon to edit or rewrite existing copy. They may also be assigned to a variety of accounts and must be versatile enough to adjust to each new product and medium and to vary the language and tone of each message.

Copywriters that work for advertising agencies may also work on annual reports, sales brochures, point-of-purchase materials, instruction manuals and press releases. Some broadcasting stations also employ copywriters to prepare advertising material and station announcements. No matter the size of the operation, copywriters must be knowledgeable about copy writing, art and layout, space and time buying and selling copy.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
n/a
 
Median Salary:
$33,550
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
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  Interests and Skills  
Copywriters require excellent communication skills, both in writing and in person with the ability to think creatively and generate an unending supply of fresh, exciting and new ideas. Many have an outgoing personality and can relate well to clients, co-workers and their intended audiences. Accordingly, copywriters should be able to give and take constructive criticism and rework their original ideas numerous times until clients are satisfied.

Most have a general interest in sales and marketing and can sell their ideas to people. Copywriters thrive on pressure situations and enjoy finding innovative solutions to problems. Finally, they should be very organized and know how to manage time properly.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Write advertisements for clients who buy advertising space in newspapers, magazines, billboards, outdoor posters, bus boards, commercial scripts, short radio and television announcements and any other advertising medium.
  • Consult with account executives or clients or follow client-written instructions which specify the messages to be conveyed
  • Research the product or service they are writing about
  • Work with a team of advertisers to determine the most effective ways of attracting the attention of the target audience
  • Collaborate with creative team members to determine the conceptual and copy direction of our clients' online branding and advertising initiatives
  • Influence consumer attitudes and buying habits
  • Sell their ideas to clients, supervisors and account executives
  • Take into account client needs and the requirements of the overall marketing plan for the product or service
  • Work closely with graphic designers, commercial artists and photographers to add visual impact to the advertising words
  • Edit and proofread ads for accuracy and for copy co-ordination
  • Help with layout and production sometimes assisting in the direction of television film shoots or radio commercials or supervising photo sessions
  • Act as a producer for TV shoots
  • May specialize in writing for local and regional companies, national corporations, government departments, retail outlets or non-profit associations
  • A typical day for a copywriter may involve writing an advertisement, travelling to a photo shoot, or meeting with clients. They industry is intensely competitive and fast-paced therefore copywriter must be able to deal with the pressure of working on many projects at the same time and meeting deadlines. The majority of copywriters work standard 40-hour weeks and occasionally longer hours when deadlines are looming and work needs to get finished. The writing aspect is usually completed in the office, unless the copywriter is a contract worker that works from his or her own home.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Copywriters are employed by advertising agencies, newspaper and magazine publishers, radio and television stations, governments, large corporations and private consulting firms. Some are also self-employed and work on a freelance basis.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Most entry-level copywriters start working with smaller organizations and with experience progress to larger newspapers, radio and television stations or advertising firms. In these larger stations and agencies, there may be opportunities to advance to copy chief or creative director positions. Copywriters may also move into areas such as broadcast sales, promotions or production, public relations, fund-raising or marketing. They may also choose to move into a different area of the media or work on a freelance basis and accepting contracts on their terms.
 

  Educational Paths  
Most copywriters have related postsecondary training, preferably in communications, journalism, marketing, broadcasting or broadcast writing. Community colleges offer two-year diploma programs which teach hands on copywriting skills and management. Graduates of these programs are qualified and easily move into entry-level positions. Nevertheless, some employers prefer to hire people who have four-year bachelor's degrees with specializations in English or communications, and even a minor in marketing or business. Graphic arts training or experience is a definite asset.

Copywriters are encouraged to keep a portfolio of writing -- published material or non-published material. Writing for a school newspaper or magazine is excellent experience and volunteering at an advertising firm or completing a co-op or internship is excellent experience. This way, one can see first hand what it is like to work as a copywriter and then decide whether or not they want to pursue this as a career.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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