May 6, 2019

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What Is It That You Do, Exactly?

May 27, 2018

 

I recently got a call from a pal who told me he’d delivered the first iteration of a website he’d designed for a client, and the client had said, “What’s all this ‘lorem ipsum’ stuff? Where are the real words?

 

My friend explained that the Latin his client was seeing was place-holding “dummy text” that would be swapped out when the copywriter delivered the actual text. “What copywriter?” asked the client. He’d been under the impression that the copy just came with the design. Discovering that it did not, he’d asked my guy to find him a copywriter.

 

What It Is That I Do, Exactly

 

I am a copywriter, which means in addition to website copy, I write stuff like …

 

  • company & organization profiles

  • mission statements

  • taglines

  • founder, executive & staff bios

  • launch announcements & other media releases

  • blog & social-media posts

  • company & product names

  • catalogs, sales sheets & product descriptions

  • brand “bibles”

  • direct-mail & email campaigns

  • newsletters

  • print & digital ads

  • audio & video scripts

  • sponsored content (“advertorials”)

  • influencer articles & white papers

  • brochures & flyers

  • billboards

  • PowerPoint presentations & investor pitches

  • whatever my clients need to brand their businesses/market their goods & services

 

 

Write vs. Right

 

But I don’t always use the word “copywriting” to describe what I do. People either don’t know what it means (because they don’t work in advertising, which is rampant with copywriters) or they think it has something to do with copyrights, denoted by the symbol ©.

 

(If you care to divine the difference between “copywriting” and “copyright,” just drop the “copy” part and compare “writing” and “right.” Then it’s easy to see that one’s about writing; the other’s about rights. Bonus for my word nerds: There’s no such verb as “copywrite,” and there’s no such noun as “copyrighter.”)

 

A Copywriter by Any Other Name

 

I wish I could call myself a “commercial writer,” like graphic designers were once called “commercial artists” (as opposed to “fine” artists). But that makes it sound like I write commercials, which is a pretty narrow designation.

 

And I can’t just call myself a “writer” because that’s a pretty broad designation. Plus, it tends to denote a journalist or novelist or, in the town I call home, a screenwriter.

 

I’ve tried “business writer,” but as it falls from my lips I nearly swoon with boredom. I’m The Herbal Verbalist, for chrissakes – I can’t call myself something as nondescript as a “business writer.” Incomprehensible though it may be to some, “copywriter” signifies branding in a way “business writer” just doesn’t, and branding is my jam

 

Peggy Olson to the Rescue

 

Then again, a lot of people have seen “Mad Men” – so many that the increasingly ubiquitous MedMen dispensary chain presumably felt a substantial part of its audience would be in on the wordplay. Which means a lot of people know Peggy Olson, a copywriter. 

 

I could do worse than to keep calling myself a copywriter but follow up with “like Peggy Olson, on ‘Mad Men.’”

 

 

And if that doesn't work, I'll just have to explain what a copywriter is, reeling off something like this (from Wikipedia): Copywriting is the act of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.”

 

After all, I love answering people’s questions about cannabis and the cannabis industry. I should take the same approach with the mysterious profession of copywriting. So then, “copywriter?” Right you are! 

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