COPYWRITERS write the words used in advertisements for newspapers, radio,
television, magazines, and other media. Copywriters may also write publicity releases, promotional or informational booklets, sales promotion materials, or they may work on merchandising campaigns. They sometimes write radio and television commercials or trade journal articles about products or services. At times Copywriters may be called upon to edit or rewrite existing copy. Copywriters may 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.
Agency Copywriters may also work on annual reports, sales brochures, point-of-purchase materials, instruction manuals and press releases. Some broadcasting stations 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.
In small firms, Copywriters may help co-workers fulfill these functions. The duties are varied and require thorough knowledge of the agency's operations.
Most Copywriters in large metropolitan areas are employed by retail stores or advertising agencies in advertising departments of firms in related industries. Copywriting, although a creative endeavor, is performed for business under sometimes unrelenting conditions. Crises are typical of advertising production, and pressure is a condition of the job. In retail
trade, the Copywriter works barely ahead of consecutive release dates, so that deadlines occur daily. Last minute revisions are routine, with evening or weekend work required at times.
As in all desirable fields, beginning opportunities in advertising are extremely limited, but the search for top creative talent is never ending. Many openings are with advertisers (including department stores, health care plans, among others), advertising agencies, media, public relations, and
professional and trade associations. Advertising and public relations agencies are also sources for new jobs. The field, however, is highly competitive.
ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING
Copywriters should be skilled in visually roughing out ideas and in developing notable copy. In addition, Copywriters should possess a working knowledge of typography and layout.
Copywriting experience is preferred, particularly in the specialty of the job opening. Advertising agencies usually hire only those with three to five years' experience with an agency of comparable size, and sometimes
require specialized experience in such diverse areas as automobiles and confectionery. Retail stores require experience in writing advertising copy for merchandise such as furniture, appliances, or women's fashions.
Copywriting positions generally require a college degree. A combination of liberal arts and appropriate business courses provide a good educational base. Some colleges offer degrees in communications; these programs may include training in writing copy. Special courses in copywriting and creative writing are useful, as is familiarity with word processing equipment.
It is important to supplement formal education with actual writing experience. Writing for school and community publications is one way to gain this experience. Writing news releases or advertisements for school or community projects are other ways to gain experience. Well-written essays and other academic assignments can also be presented as examples of ability. Advertising agencies that hire inexperienced workers prefer college graduates.
In a large department store there are several avenues of promotion open to the Copywriter. The first step may be Copy Chief or Fashion Coordinator. Next up the scale is a division manager of fashions or home furnishings, and
ultimately, head of the advertising department. An agency Copywriter may advance to Copy Supervisor and then to Copy Chief. Some become Account Executives. A promotion may be characterized merely by assignment to more
important accounts, or by a salary increase. A Copywriter with a high degree of creative and administrative talent can aspire to head up an agency.
FINDING THE JOB
Opportunities for the inexperienced worker in retail copywriting appear better in the outlying areas than in metropolitan centers. Employment in a small broadcasting studio is another possibility. Some newspapers hire
beginning Copywriters to work in classified advertising. Most Copywriters find jobs on their own. Contact sources are the various trade publications for job openings and news of account acquisitions, which sometimes signify
agency expansion. Application is usually made to the advertising department rather than the employment office. It is acceptable to write a letter requesting an appointment for an interview, and to enclose a resume of
education, work experience, and personal data, which should not exceed two pages. If the applicant is granted a personal interview, a portfolio of the creative writing which may include short stories or clippings from a college
paper should be presented. Good contacts are established by joining the Junior and Senior Advertising Clubs and attending their meetings.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION
American Association of Advertising Agencies
130 Battery Street, Suite 330
San Francisco, CA 94111
American Marketing Association
250 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60606
The Association of National Advertisers
41 East 42nd St.
New York, NY 10017