Comparison of Communications Arts magazine Advertising Annuals…1988 vs. 2010. Ads not as headline driven, and there is much less (if any) body copy. So where does that leave writers?…you must become highly conceptual visually.
This is both bad news and good news. Bad news because it’s a sad statement on our society, our educational system and our kids. Been teaching at AiPX for 5 years and these college students can’t string two sentences together. Recently spoke at a few classes at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and the professor there said the same thing. She spends more time correcting writing and grammar mistakes than teaching what she’s supposed to…new media.
In 1987, I was mentored by a senior copywriter and my creative director at Phillips-Ramsey, then Phoenix’s largest advertising agency. I spent 3 years there, under their tutelage. After that, I was on my own. I’m finding that today, everybody is pretty much, on their own. So, if you want to be really good at your craft, you need to study the people whose work you admire. For me, it’s Luke Sullivan by way of his book, “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This.” Or it’s the award winners in the CA Advertising Annuals. Or it’s the work in Lurzer’s Archive. Or it’s attending seminars/conferences/workshops for continuing education.
Every great piece of advertising work – no matter what the medium – is driven by an idea. It’s amazing to me how many people DON’T get this. Even in our own industry. You have to start with a GREAT idea, then you have to be able to pay it off no matter what medium you’re working in. If you don’t, you’re not working hard enough for your client. And you’re just creating more stuff that clutters the environment.
Copywriters used to have to be proficient in traditional media, such as print and broadcast. Then they had to become proficient in direct response and collateral. Now they also have to know how to write for interactive and social media. It’s a tall order. And why you need continuing education. But it’s why we get the big bucks!
Some people say print is dead. I don’t believe it. And neither do the “experts.” Sure, it’s taken a big backseat to interactive and social media. But any good marketer knows that a smart advertising campaign is an integrated marketing communications campaign. That means using a mix that includes ALL mediums. Why? Because using several touchpoints only increases your chances of being seen.
It’s so hot that nobody’s really got it figured out yet. It’s mutating too fast. Trying to learn and keep up with the changes is demanding. But as long as I’m writing, I gotta do it. My clients expect it of me. It’s also an opportunity to create another revenue stream for yourself.
Direct response has now evolved into direct response videos. They’re on websites, they’re on YouTube, they’re being emailed in permission-based blasts. Clients want ‘em so you better know how to write ‘em! Make friends with videographers. They can help.
Sentence fragments are used for effect, brevity and to strengthen copy. And make it clearer. Because…And…But…etc. are acceptable ways to start sentences. Colloquial usage is what makes ad copy so easy to warm up to. But some clients who were spanked by their English teachers, don’t get it. Educate them. If you can’t…give them what they want and bill ‘em…or move on.
Promontory example: Magazine articles from press releases? Heck no! I need to see the community! Nothing beats getting it straight from the horse’s mouth.