Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I started out in PR and really enjoyed the writing side of it. So when I set up my own PR consultancy I began taking on copy projects as well as PR campaigns. Despite having great PR clients such as Puma and Bacardi Breezer, I preferred copywriting. So after a few years I stopped doing PR and focused on copywriting, and have done ever since.
What work are you most proud of?
Recently, I wrote some reports for World Vision, a charity that works with the world’s poorest communities to improve children’s lives. As much as I enjoy the commercial aspect of copywriting, it felt good to be helping an organisation that gives such fundamental support to so many young people.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
I’d love to have written the Volkswagen ‘Think small’ ad. Not just because it was so clever and successful, but because it would have meant working in New York in the glorious Mad Men era. More recently, I thought the script for Dollar Shave Club’s launch video was brilliant. It gets all the product points across in a memorable way, and in a tone of voice that’s perfect for the target market. And it looked as if they had a really good laugh during filming!
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
It depends. If it’s long copy I go back a step and do some more planning. I find that if I plan with enough detail the words flow easier when it gets to the writing. I think it can also help to just write something, however clumsy it feels – get something down and then edit it later. If I’m working on conceptual copy I take a break or have a browse on the net about something unrelated, and then tackle it from a completely different angle.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
My favourite tasks are researching and editing. I love the early stages of a project when you’re digging deep and finding the nuggets of information that will make a difference. And I like it when I’ve got my first rough draft together and can begin fine-tuning. My least favourite task is working out prices for jobs.
Any copywriting pet hates?
I find it a bit irritating when people insist that you shouldn’t start a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Always write for the reader (or viewer or listener). It seems obvious, but it’s easy for the audience and their motivations to slip down the list of priorities. Especially if lots of people are involved in the briefing and approval processes. You can quickly end up with a piece of copy that’s stuffed with information but of no interest to your target market.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Ask lots of questions. Whether you’re taking a brief, getting feedback on copy or trying to drum up new business, it always pays to ask lots and listen carefully. You never know what you’ll be writing about next so, even when you’re going about your day-to-day, it’s worth being curious about whatever or whoever you come across. My husband will laugh at this – he says I ask far too many questions.