Politics. Pop Culture. Social Trends. Technology. Guess what, copywriters, we’ve got to be up-to-date on all of these things.
There is a difference between being a writer and a copywriter. Writers need an imagination, a firm grasp of the rules of language, and knowledge of one particular subject (ideally, the subject they are writing about). Copywriters also need those traits, but we also must be zeitgeists. We must be comedians. We must be political pundits. We must be tech-savvy experts. We must know public opinion on movies, fashion, health care, cars, and anything and everything else going on in the world around us.
Fortunately for us copywriters, I think that is part of the reason we got into this business. If it wasn’t we’d be writing screen plays, novels or newspaper articles. But we love the variety. We love knowing what’s going on about ALL things at ALL times. We’re inquisitive almost to the point of being nosy. We’re like journalists without the AP style requirements or the ethical, objective code. We write about what we want to write about. Okay, maybe not. We write about what our client and creative director want us to write about.
Point is: Stay attuned, stay abreast. Know what’s going on. About everything. I’ve come to realize that the biggest positive feedback in my writing always comes from my timely and culturally relevant quips.
When I took 2nd place in my school’s humorous writing contest, people always said their favorite part was when I joked about the iPhone. This was in 2008, so it was big news at the time. My piece was about airport waiting areas … and people loved the bit about the iPhone. At first it didn’t really make sense. It certainly wasn’t my favorite part of my comedic story. But then I realized that it was relevant to the time. And it all made sense.
I love knowing a little bit about everything, and I guess that’s the key. Be a know-it-all without the annoying attitude. There aren’t many areas in which I’d say I’m an expert, but I do know the basics of a lot of things. And it helps me so much in my writing. It’s just a necessary part of being an advertising copywriter.