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The CopyWriters Connection
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Your thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...Views: 804
Oct 01, 2006 8:48 pmYour thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...#

Sharif Khan
I was recently interviewed for a copywriter position and was asked how good my editing/proof-reading skills were.

I was wondering if any of you could comment on distinguishing between editing and copywriting for a full-time copywriter position in terms of where to draw the line and what is reasonably expected in the copywriting profession?

Sharif Khan
Author, The Hero Soul
http://www.herosoul.com

Private Reply to Sharif Khan

Oct 01, 2006 9:11 pmre: Your thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...#

Robb Zerr
I would never hire a copywriter that didn't have equal skills in proofreading and editing. It's part of the package these days. After all, if a writer is hired for their command of the language in its written form, wouldn't that automatically include correct spelling, proper grammar and adherence to the rules?

-- Robb

Private Reply to Robb Zerr

Oct 02, 2006 5:45 amre: Your thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...#

harsh dutta
I believe in this era of super-specialization, editing and copywriting can be easily considered to be two branches of the same tree. A copy writer would essentially be a creative writer who can play with words, understand customer requirement and weave the content accordingly.

A person strong in copywriting can be discounted for not having sufficient copy editing skills. His specific job is to create a copy. It is the copy editor's job to proofread the same.

Moreover, a pursuasive copywriter with equally strong copy editing skills is rare to find. Choose your domain and be the master of it - that's what I would say.

On the flip side, a freelance copywriter needs to be equally adept in editing because more often that not he will have that job to do.

- Harsh

Private Reply to harsh dutta

Oct 02, 2006 8:57 amre: re: Your thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...#

Wot's... Uh The Deal (Vijai)
When armed with a jackhammer, it doesn't hurt to keep a small Philips screwdriver set, just in case.
Just make sure where and how much of both you use.

Plus ça change,
Plus c'est la même chose.
http://dnr-network.ryze.com

Private Reply to Wot's... Uh The Deal (Vijai)

Oct 02, 2006 4:56 pmre: re: re: Your thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...#

Achuth Nair
hmmmm.....
Here I can see a lot of misconceptions formed of the profession of CopyWriting. A Copywriter who plays with words are antique pieces nowadays. You can find them in Advertising Museums and not in Advertising Agencies. In the Era of Ideas you are talking of little details of proof reading and editing, etc. What about single line ads. It is not essential that the Idea 'has' to come from the visualiser or art Director or whoever is posted to 'IDEATE'. So if a person is skilled in giving strategical thought on how to effectively sell a product by standing out in the clutter of the communication and understand the consumer mindset and can craft ideas that will take the brand/product into their hearts... well that's enough. EG: I'm Lovin' it! (Mc Donald's) Advertising copy is one-one conversation with the prospective customer. you treat him like a friend in your copy. Do you think of grammer and diction and pronounciation and whatever when you converse with your closest friend? If yes then forget being a copywriter. You can fare better in business communication and not marketing communication. I hope somebody will be tempted to count the 'mistakes' in this piece. Go ahead! Be a lo... well you understood!

Achu

Private Reply to Achuth Nair

Oct 02, 2006 5:27 pmre: re: re: re: Your thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...#

Robb Zerr
You're limiting the concept of copywriter to advertising. There are many levels of copywriting and many of these disciplines do require you to have a command of grammar, punctuation and wordsmithing. I don't really consider "I love it" something a copywriter would have come up with. It's garbage as a slogan. If copywriters are relics in a museum then keep me in one. I'm one of those lucky relics that clients seek out and pay top dollar to.

You can still communicate with someone one on one without sounding like an idiot who didn't get past seventh grade. As you can see by all the lackluster prose on the Web, the need for professionals skilled in communicating via the written word has never been greater.

Art directors will never be copywriters, any more than copywriters were designers during the early days of desktop publishing.

Any painter can slap paint on a canvas. But it takes a true artist to create something with paint that evokes an emotional response, something that touches the heart, mind and soul. That's the difference between a person who paints walls in your house and the work of someone like Monet. They're both painters, but only one is an artist. Only one's work captures the imagination, only one lights the soul and only their work is remembered (unless the guy who painted your house left drips).

-- Robb

Private Reply to Robb Zerr

Oct 02, 2006 6:55 pmYour thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...#

AMBAR
To sum it all up, both Rob and Achu, having proved
themselves in their own right, are right in their own ways.

Now, all depends on what kind of writer Sharif is!

Private Reply to AMBAR

Oct 02, 2006 7:15 pmre: Your thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...#

Wot's... Uh The Deal (Vijai)
Most often, bang for the buck (effectiveness) gets decided by the audience. Average audience? Give them average slogans and cliched philosophy, they'll absorb them before you can even think 'squeeze'.
If one looks at the spate of advertisements (both print and TVC's, no I'm not going to talk about radio at all!) here in India, one is forced to draw the conclusion that mediocrity sells. Some ads even carry punchlines of jokes that have been doing the email rounds for the past several years. But sadly, nobody seems to object to it. It's neither praised to the skies nor is it equally looked down upon. Result? Status quo with a degenerating effect in the long run. No wonder people from the 30+ age group seem to long for ads made in the last decade.
There is after all a difference between tugging at the heart and purely gooey emotional sappy trite. Somewhere in there, it's the copywriter who makes all the difference(like how a sub-editor breathes life into an otherwise boring paragraph of dull facts).
And I think it's unfair (and preposterous) to assume that all that an obscenely fat pay check will demand of you is to look into the thesaurus once in a while and quote some dead guy, probably still rolling in his grave.

Plus ça change,
Plus c'est la même chose.
http://dnr-network.ryze.com

Private Reply to Wot's... Uh The Deal (Vijai)

Oct 03, 2006 5:02 amre: re: re: re: Your thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...#

Kunal Budhbhatti
Achuth's right! Copywriting is NOT about words. It's about merging ideas and strategy. It's about differentiation AND relevance. It's about developing freshness AND a feeling of comfort. I could go on and on. But hey, I guess for those who are starting off, I can only say, copywriting is about knocking on someone's door with YOUR own doorbell. The response from inside will depend on enchanting your bell is. ;-)

Hey Achuth, how's Dubai treating you man? Lemme know if you need another writer there! :-)

Kunal

Private Reply to Kunal Budhbhatti

Oct 07, 2006 5:22 pmre: Your thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...#

Sharif Khan
Thanks all for sharing your views on editorial skills for copywriters. It has been a helpful perspective builder.

The way I see it, Copy Editors and Copywriters, have different talents. Copy Editors focus on the form and Copywriters focus on the function.

Of course, it is a given, that copywriters should have a strong command of the english language, and should always deliver very professional, polished copy with high standards of excellence. But their main focus should be on the function -- delivering results based on the specific objectives of each writing project whether to educate customers, motivate staff, bring in more leads for sales people, sell more units of a product, upsell to bigger clients, secure larger contracts, or whatever the case may be.

I don't think copywriters should spend a majority of their time editing other people's work and every communications piece a company sends out. That's where the Copy Editor comes in. Someone who can always find ways to make copy read better, and work with the subtlties of the english language to refine a piece, and make certain passages within an effective piece to 'sing.'

So I think it's important to make some distinctions when interviewing for a copywriter's position.

Sharif Khan
Author, The Hero Soul
http://www.herosoul.com

Private Reply to Sharif Khan

Oct 07, 2006 8:48 pmre: re: re: re: re: Your thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...#

Achuth Nair
Well well well, let's see what we have in our platter... First of all the whole point of comparing a great artist and a wall painter itself is preposterous. Just because both of them use same the media doesn't mean they are comparable. A wall painter is skilled in his own way. When he paints he won't leave brush marks. That itself is a skill. Then as you suggested he doesn't let it drip. And only when one does the job one will understand what it takes to do it properly. Well who makes a great artist Great? Copywriters and Editors, isn't it? anyone who is related to art galleries would put a stamp and signature on it. The rest is blah blah...

And now English grammer. English is a fatherless language. When you look deeply you'll see more of French, Latin words than Anglo Saxon stuff in it. (Sorry to those English fanatics). Moreover there are two disciplines of grammer too. 1. the standard one - the bookish stuff. They go by the book. No innovations... and the language becomes stagnant. 2. The dynamic one - here you innovate in the language itself. There is a famous sentence - "Proposition is not the right way to end a sentence with" well let's try explain that.
Now let's look at Global scenario. Please go to China and write to them in polished British English. And you'll draw looks of bewilderment. Go to ME and try it! You'll draw the same.
Now Let's see.. which is correct spelling c-o-l-o-u-r or c-o-l-o-r... A true American would stand by the latter and a true Briton would stand by the former. More examples? P-r-o-g-r-a-m-m-e and P-r-o-g-r-a-m
A true copywriter is above all these nitty gritties... he first creates Ideas that sell. Havn't you heard the great grand dad of advertising Mr. D. Ogilvy say. Advertising is "Salesmanship in print" You talk to your TA in their language. If not they will kick you out of their hearts.
When you talk to your kid you say a lot of stuff which means nothing.. lolooo... doduuuu stuff... that too is communication... coz the kid responds...
As we say Copywriter is LIMITED to advertising. Others have their own names. Web writing is Content development, Jourlaism is Editor, then there is a discipline called Technical writing in software companies in which you have to write the "Help" section of the softwares, then you have Company Profilers and more... those who do it all are just WRITERS. Not Copy Writers. Like you have Doctors. Not all doctors are neuro surgeons. Like that not all writers are copy writers.
And the garbage "I'm Lovin' it" is not just a slogan. It is an Idea. And it has helped Mc Donalds to take back the No. 1 position from Burger King.

If polished english, correct grammer and punctuation was the criteria of a good copywriter then anybody with a thesaurus and Microsoft Word could be a good copy writer.
And I rest my case!
Achu

Private Reply to Achuth Nair

Oct 25, 2006 8:23 amShould copywriters take up a predominantly proofreading job?#

farrukh_copywriter(at)yahoo.com
This is a useful question to ask - how much of the job will require proofreading. A copywriter should be doing more than just that at work.

If a company is hiring a copywriter to do editing and proofreading, they would be using a computer to do the work of a typewriter.

Having said that, I do not agree with the view that copywriters should be excused for grammatical errors and language flaws just because they aren't writing long copy.

My suggestion: Find out the kind of projects the company mostly does - if it is mostly newsletters and advertorials and press releases and publishing - be prepared for the editing/proofreading. Perhaps npt a wise choice for a copywriter hoping to be creative director known for ideas some day, not an editor for his editing skills.

farrukh

Private Reply to farrukh_copywriter(at)yahoo.com

Oct 25, 2006 9:50 amre: Should copywriters take up a predominantly proofreading job?#

Kunal Budhbhatti
Proofreading is the FINAL job on a copywriter's 'to-do' list before the work actually gets published! and anway, you can get good proofreaders aged 15! why hire a writer to do predominantly proofing jobs?

of course wrong grammar sucks, especially when a writer commits such a sin in the course of the profession. having said that, proofing is a must, but not the be all, end all. we should remember, writers are ideators who just happen to use words to convey them.

Private Reply to Kunal Budhbhatti

Oct 25, 2006 5:26 pmre: re: Should copywriters take up a predominantly proofreading job?#

Robin Gorley
Absolutely copywriters should check for grammar, sentence structure, and certainly those typos. Nothing is worse then seeing typos in your work. Because once it goes to print, you can't stop it.

Robin Gorley
www.freewebs.com/rteditingservices
www.freewebs.com/alifetimeofwords
www.freewebs.com/wcauthorpremere

Private Reply to Robin Gorley

Oct 26, 2006 7:08 amre: re: re: Should copywriters take up a predominantly proofreading job?#

farrukh_copywriter(at)yahoo.com
The first copywriter to spot a typo in my post above gets a big hug ;-)

farrukh

Private Reply to farrukh_copywriter(at)yahoo.com

Oct 27, 2006 12:46 amre: re: re: re: Should copywriters take up a predominantly proofreading job?#

Robin Gorley
Where's my hug, I found a typo!

Robin Gorley

Private Reply to Robin Gorley

Oct 28, 2006 3:20 pmre: re: re: re: re: Should copywriters take up a predominantly proofreading job?#

farrukh_copywriter(at)yahoo.com
And the early bird hug goes to.... Robin.

Any more tries?

Hint: It's hidden in the last para.

Hurry, offer valid till stocks last... LOL.

Private Reply to farrukh_copywriter(at)yahoo.com

Oct 28, 2006 6:07 pmre: Should copywriters take up a predominantly proofreading job?#

Mukesh Ghatiya
Do I get a hug from Robin if I spot the mistake in her post? :)

Private Reply to Mukesh Ghatiya

Oct 29, 2006 5:58 amre: re: Should copywriters take up a predominantly proofreading job?#

farrukh_copywriter(at)yahoo.com
The first one to guess the meaning of Mukesh's second name gets a hug... too. LOL.

farrukh

Private Reply to farrukh_copywriter(at)yahoo.com

Nov 28, 2006 4:04 amre: Your thoughts about 'editorial' skills required by copywriters...#

meena jayadeva
This is in response to Sharif's question and in celebration of Robb Zerr's wonderful answer.

The following points are on our company website, in a section where we define our writing philosophy.I think this addresses both the question you asked, a few that you didn't and some issues connected to writing in general:

Our Eight Principles of Good Writing

* We believe that professional writing is not a personal expression or literary effort, unless the author is the "hero" of the piece and the subject matter is secondary to the author's interpretations, opinions and style. Writing is effective communication where words are only a part of the exercise. A writer's personal style will, of course come through (which is only natural and as it should be)—but it is not the fulcrum around which everything else revolves.
* We encourage and laud inspired brilliant creativity (which is obviously the most effective for a given purpose).
* We encourage and laud wit, humour and the light touch as long as it is integral to effective communication in a given context.
* We discourage puns, clever word-play, verbal gimmicks, irrelevant and forced wit and humour, round-aboutness, flippancy and facetiousness—and generally a school-level tone—in our writing.
* We expect our writers and researchers to show initiative in setting up and reviewing research, writing and creative bench-marks.
* We expect our writers/researchers to see a solution to a given problem as a process of evolution and discovery, debate and dissent.
* We expect our writers/researchers to carefully check the authenticity and reliability of sources and to acknowledge them in the finished article.
* Good writing does not come out of thin air but from an understanding of the subject, the background, the client, the purpose and the target audience.

Regards,
Chicku

Private Reply to meena jayadeva

Nov 30, 2006 4:15 amre: Should copywriters take up a predominantly proofreading job?#

Anuradha M S
Your typo, Farrukh: final para, line 4, word 6: the word "not" is mis-spelt as "npt".

is the hug mine then, from Farrukkh?

take a bow, Farrukkh, great style of copy, easy on the eye and very attractive sentence structure.

Back to the discussion at hand: Proofreading is par for the course as much as changing a car's tyres is to the skill of car driving. Mastery over anything actually begins at being good at the basics and then cruising up to bigger things...
A copywriter/writer/journo has the task of representing things correctly, precisely, with no errors: readers look up to such great "thinkers", for each bit that this breed writes, should inspire and interest a motley crowd of readers, whose identity can be only imagined at best, most of the time. Like web selling.
So why not proofreading: it's part of the job

Gypsee9

Private Reply to Anuradha M S

Nov 30, 2006 10:47 amre: re: Should copywriters take up a predominantly proofreading job?#

farrukh_copywriter(at)yahoo.com
Good eye for detail Anuradha - congrats - you win yourself a hug too for spotting the typo!

The car and tyre analogy is a creative one - we could add that a person who drives should know the traffic rules. Otherwise...

A huge huge brand recently misspelt one word out of two in a LAUNCH ad. Imagine the first impression that this misspelt doublespread ad made on the target audience.

A mistake like that could cost the writer his job. The client might have been rushing the release perhaps or making a zillion changes but still, the responsibility for the copy does rest with the person who writes it.

You are right - we have to know the rules first before we use creative license to break them.

farrukh
Copywriter & Journalist

Private Reply to farrukh_copywriter(at)yahoo.com

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