First-time writing in an Ad Agency? Let’s do this, junior!

It may be seriously scary at first. You are eager to write, you have been an avid reader your whole life and now you’re hired to actually do it. Don’t panic! Coffee in hand and thinking cap securely on your bright head, here’re some tips to start you off:

#01 Writing is Research

Lots of it. Do it before you actually go into it. Do it while you’re crafting your copy. Don’t think you know everything; fact check and read up, especially if you’re not particularly well-versed in the topic.

Topics given to you may range from, well – anything! From a website about freshwater farming, to social media postings, to articles on seasonal fashion trends, to financial planning brochures and real estate product flyers…learn as you go. Remember, you don’t get to pick your clients!

Writing something completely foreign to you? Research and see how related materials are written. What kind of tone and vocab are used? Mimic these sublimely, before refining the copy to suit the voice of your client.

For real tho, how else did you think the term ‘copywriter’ (copy + write!) came about? I kid, I kid. If you Google that, you will find that, quote:

“…the word ‘copy’ was derived from Latin, back when texts were hand-copied. It took another 600 years for “copywriter” to appear…”, end quote.

But back to research. Much like any assignment or project you completed in your schooling days, the first step is always to do ample research. Do that, pronto!

#02 Sounding Right

I’m gonna talk about the voice and tone of your copy here. Say what? Yes. A good writer and reader can actually hear the words they typed – how they sound, is the PITCH TOO HIGH, does it sound rushed or presumptuous, are they shouting/whispering/lying, etc. etc. Learn this and ask yourself: How is the brand you’re writing for suppose to sound?

Your copy needs to sound right (not only to be accepted by your Art and Creative Directors), but it must sound like your Client. You must sound like the brand you’re representing. You must understand the product you’re working with and the product’s clientele. Which demographic do they belong in? What language do they speak and how old are they? These are crucial info to help you write well.

What words should you use to appeal to them? Short sentences or long sentences? Should your copy sound assuring? Sexy? Or maybe straight-out cheapo like: “Flash Deals Now! 80% off selected items from 6pm – 10pm on all online stores!”.

Decide and determine. Once you have got your brand’s tone of voice locked down, stick to it. Know what works and use it.

#03 Get the BEST Brief!

Don’t settle for a skeleton brief. You need to know what the client really needs. Get all the info you can, not just the specs, but know what the collateral is for, particularly. Is it commissioned in conjunction with an event? What has been done previously for the account/client, and did it work?

You need to be informed because by doing so, you’ll know how best to start on the job. Sometimes, you may not know where to start, and that’s okay. Do some digging first, talk to your team. Talk to the Servicing personnel to get an understanding of what the Client is like and stuff they’re looking for.

In the end, writing takes a good combo of information and imagination. It takes courage to discover your style and more so to pitch never-done-before copy. There’re loads of tips out there for novice writers on ‘how to write good copy’ but we’ll cover that in another article. I sincerely hope these 3 simple ground rules help you take flight in the ad world.

Write on!

– Josephine P