Copywriters are responsible for the linguistic content of adverts. They work across a range of media and formats, interpreting account briefs to compose advertorial content such as slogans, catchphrases, tweets and scripts for tv and/or radio adverts. Typical responsibilities include:
- interpreting account briefs
- researching clients, their competitors and the target audience
- producing original, clear and credible ideas/messages/scripts, and presenting these to clients and colleagues
- monitoring campaign effectiveness
- liaising with clients and colleagues, and meeting project teams to consider advertising requirements
- updating and amending campaigns according to feedback
- supervising junior staff
- writing reports.
The advertising sector is notoriously fast-paced and copywriters in this industry need to be unfazed by working creatively to deadlines. There is a considerable amount of contact with media planners and buyers and the in-house production department in order to develop advertising campaigns. In many advertising agencies, copywriters form part of the creative team, working almost directly alongside art directors responsible for the visual content of adverts.
Promotion is normally into senior copywriting/creative positions, although career progression may necessitate moving agencies. The majority of vacancies are in London, although large agencies also operate in Manchester, Bristol, Leeds and Birmingham, and smaller agencies exist throughout the UK. Many copywriters also work freelance once they have gained some experience and built up a portfolio of work.
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 as there is intense competition for jobs. Some agencies offer internships and work experience placements, which can be an excellent way of getting experience and entering the industry.
- Advertising agencies
- Media agencies
- Full service agencies
There are routes into advertising copywriting for both university graduates and school leavers.
Any degree subject is acceptable for entry into the profession, although English, journalism, copywriting, public relations, literary studies or media studies might be particularly helpful.
Experience gained through internships and work experience placements can be useful when beginning to build a portfolio of work. Experience in a business-to-business (B2B) environment may be particularly useful.
To find out how to get into a career in this area via a school leaver route, visit the business section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.
It is essential to have a good appreciation of what working within the advertising industry involves. UK adverts are often subject to strict legal standards, so professional copywriters must continually update and maintain their familiarity with industry trends and standards.
A good portfolio of work should be prepared to demonstrate abilities to employers, who look for evidence of the following skills:
- excellent self-motivation
- commercial awareness
- ability to work well under pressure and meet deadlines
- good teamworking skills
- administrative and organisational skills
- IT proficiency
- attention to detail
- accuracy both in terms of grammar and information, as adverts must not be misleading
- creativity and an ability to produce innovative and original ideas.