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Responsibilities of a Copywriter

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Q - What are your responsibilities as a copywriter?

A - My title is senior copywriter, and my responsibilities include attending strategic meetings; developing strategy for a piece of work, be it print, radio, or TV; and working with the client and other members of a creative team. Here at our agency we involve one or more art directors, copywriters, account service people, and a production manager, as well as the client in developing the concept for a creative piece of work. That involves brainstorming-the client may or may not be present-with as small a group as two or as large as ten. We begin with a meeting like that.

If necessary I research the client's field and trade publication that carry previous advertisements for the client's product or those competitors. Then I write the copy. I write the majority of the copy writers edit it, proofread it, assist in the production of radio or TV, prop these coordinate the talent, prepare estimates, distribute tapes, approve bill I've also been involved with audio-visual presentations, slide show training films, marketing presentations, and sales meeting presentation I supervise a junior copywriter, and I serve as a walking, talking dictionary and thesaurus. I win the spelling bee every day.

We have about twenty-five accounts here, and I'd say for 20 percent of those I'm the principal writer. We have a lot of small account and about three or four large accounts, "large" meaning we're working on two or three projects for them all the time. The smaller accounts will only need an advertisement every three months.

As copy supervisor, I keep up with the work assigned to the other two writers, and I even out the workload. I get involved will production a great deal. We get involved with marketing strategies and marketing plans. The degree of involvement depends on the client. I work with the account people to come up with marketing plans, and also write creative drafts. We make presentations to clients and ne business contacts.

The copy supervisor is a copywriting position with some supervisory responsibilities over a junior writer. In addition to doing a little of my own writing work, I ride herd on a junior writer, whose work guide and critique before it goes any further.

My main responsibility is to come up with great ideas. I am also responsible for communicating with an art director to make those ideas more clear and to set the ideas in the form of a story board, for example I deal with account people who represent the clients. I communicate the idea to them, so that they can properly present it to the client. I se myself, the associate creative director, as a kind of cheerleader. I like t think that somehow my being here has a positive effect on the creative output of the other people with whom I work.

Q - What other departments do you deal with?

A - I deal very closely with art people, they're actually in my own department. They are my day-to-day co-workers. I work with account executives quite a bit. My dealings with them involve deciding what creative strategy to take and the scheduling of that process. If the client has problems with something we do, then the account people bring i back to me, so that it can be corrected. If there is a significant piece o research that affects the way we go about a problem, then the research people are the ones with whom we talk about it. There is a little bit of dealing with the media department, but not a lot. It's kind of a separate thing. They go off on their own and buy the right magazines and the lot of TV programs to run our advertisements. Other than establishing whether it's a full-page or half-page advertisement or a thirty-second-thing commercial, there's not a lot of dealings with the media people.

Q - How many hours per week do you spend at work?

A - I usually arrive around 9:30 and go home around 6:00. I almost ways work through lunch. Some days, maybe five times a year, I have a say when I actually have nothing to do. On a day like that, I can come in 10:15 to see what's going on and hang out for the morning, and then ) to the movies in the afternoon. I'll call just to make sure that nothing has happened. That's rare. Sometimes I'm here at 7:00 in the morning; sometimes I stay until 9:00 or 10:00 at night; sometimes I have to work n weekends. When I was single, I stayed here until 7:00 or 8:00 every night, volunteering to work on things. Most young, ambitious people do. When I leave at 6:00 now, I'm one of the first to go!

Q - How big a role do personalities play in advertising?

A - There was a time back in the 1960s when the economy was really loose and everybody was interested in hot creative work. The account people were almost messengers between the creative group and led client. Then in the 1970s, there was a backlash when the account group became the boss, the creative group became the supplier and wrote stuff to order, and advertising got so boring. There certainly are people trying to rectify the imbalance. While the account people shouldn't have to come to us with hat in hand, it's not their job to say, No, I don't want to present that, I just don't like that." The relationship s not well-defined. It depends on the personalities involved. No one has ever stated a real working definition of that balance.

There is no relationship between how good people are at their jobs and how difficult it is to get along them. Some people can work at the same office and do award-winning work year after year, and everybody likes them and they're terrific. On the other hand, you have the erratic genius who gets mad and throws typewriters out of the twentieth door!

People in advertising get fired a lot, and they get fired for no good reason. They go to other places, and they become rich and famous. There's really no accounting for that except that copywriters and art directors have some fairly strong personalities, and they tend to rub others the wrong way sometime. If you get the wrong people together a small room long enough, they will generate some fireworks, and sometimes you come up with combinations that don't work.
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