Advertising copywriting: graduate area of work

Advertising copywriters work closely with other creative (visual) agency staff in the conception and production of the verbal elements of advertising campaigns.

Getting a job as an advertising copywriter is the dream of many students with creative talent and big ambitions - but what does the work actually involve? Copywriters are employed by advertising and media agencies. Typical responsibilities include:

  • interpreting account briefs
  • producing original, clear and credible ideas or scripts
  • monitoring campaign effectiveness
  • delivering final products for review
  • amending campaigns according to feedback
  • supervising junior staff
  • writing reports.

Promotion is normally into senior copywriting/creative positions, although career progression may necessitate moving agencies.

What's required

Any degree subject is acceptable for entry into the profession. A relevant qualification in, for example, English, journalism, copywriting, public relations, or literary/media studies can be helpful. Potential employees should be adaptable, commercially aware, able to work well under pressure and capable of meeting deadlines.

Good teamworking, administrative, IT, proofreading and communication skills are also important. Whilst employers often value creative writing skills, original ideas and personality highly, previous advertising, copywriting or editing work experience can also be beneficial. It is essential, however, to have a good appreciation of what working within the advertising industry involves.

Where to find out more

Vacancies are advertised by recruitment agencies, in national newspapers and in publications such as Creative Review, Campaign, The Drum, Marketing, Media Week, and Marketing Week. Some agencies operate graduate recruitment schemes, for which early applications are advisable (contact your careers service for details, or refer to the IPA's 'Advertising Fact File').

Candidates need confidence, enthusiasm, stamina, determination and perseverance to succeed, as there is intense competition for jobs. Many posts are never advertised, so speculative applications are essential - directories such as Advertisers Annual, Creative Handbook and BRAD Advertiser and Agency List may be useful for these. A good portfolio of work should be prepared to demonstrate abilities to employers.