Switching Careers into Agency Copywriting - What Do I Need To Know?
May 18, 2016 6:33 PM   Subscribe

I am seriously considering pursuing a career in corporate copywriting and want to know the ins and outs. I have plenty of writing credits from various sources, both in print and online, but want to know from industry professionals about how to go about getting my foot in the door and being able to solidly present myself to agencies.

Things I need to know:
- what software other than mastery of MS Word do agencies require in copywriting?
- how many samples should I present in my book?
- what should I know about corporate advertising culture that can boost my signal with potential employers?

Many thanks in advance!
posted by Lipstick Thespian to Work & Money (3 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Especially in a corporate environment, get familiar with Adobe InDesign. You can be more valuable if you can write and/or edit in a pre-existing design template for often updated materials like newsletters, brochures, technical spec sheets, etc.

In my experience, how many samples isn't as important as what range you can show. Short, punchy copy and long, storytelling copy. Appeals to both internal audiences and external audiences. PR, ads, broadcast, web copy, social media, brochures, newsletters, marketing email ... the more versatility you can demonstrate, the better. Also, tailor your book to the corporation. Show samples that represent your knowledge of their industry and audiences whenever possible, and show samples of real-world work for recognizable clients if you have them. When you present your book (and do fight to present it in your interview, not just send it ahead), watch your audience closely, spend time where they're interested, and quit when you're winning. Your goal is to impress, so stop before you bore them.

In the corporate world, the marketing department culture is often focused on speed and cost of producing content, especially sales support materials since sales tends to be your gorilla "client". There will be a big emphasis on quick throughput and lots of emergencies -- yes, often caused by someone else's failure to plan. An environment like that can easily become adversarial, and that way lies death. Creatives lose if they can be cast as art-for-art's-sake prima donnas. They win by being team players who can come through in a pinch with something that fully responds to the stated need but at the same time, delivers a thoughtful creativity several levels beyond the expected. As you present your book, tell stories about pieces where you did just that.
posted by peakcomm at 8:11 PM on May 18, 2016 [8 favorites]

You speak of your 'book' - is this something other than your portfolio? All the best. Am currently test editor and marketing fixit guy at Huawei in Shenzhen, China. Will grab liberal testimonial sound bites from ecstatic internal clients. Do the same if you can, hiring folks love to see you can instill love.
posted by lometogo at 3:37 AM on May 19, 2016

1. Keynote and Powerpoint! You will be making so many decks. Better to get a jump on it now.

2. What do you mean by samples? Are these long-form writing samples, or portfolio "pieces" like designed social media posts, pages of site copy, print ads, or case studies? If it's the former, I would be a bit confused as to how it would translate to agency work and wouldn't be sure how to respond. If you don't have much of the latter, I would recommend partnering with an art director or designer in the same position as you to create some sample pieces for various brands. (I'm always happy to see student work, even if it wasn't actually for a client!)

3. Get a website. Squarespace is totally fine.

4. What role would you be interviewing for? Forgive if I'm being presumptive, but it kind of sounds like you're just starting out. So unless you have a killer portfolio full of live, client-bought work... I'm thinking you're going for Junior Writer? That's not a bad thing! I only ask because it affects my next point!

5. Working under the assumption you're interviewing for Junior Writer, you can be impressive/attractive to agencies by having a really tight site full of good and varied portfolio pieces (even if they're not "real"), don't try too hard (like, don't wear a suit, don't bring business cards, or printed references), bring your laptop or iPad with your site already loaded up, and have a bunch of questions about the agency: what kind of work they do, what the culture is like, etc. The answer would be somewhat different if you're going for an ACD role or above.

Memail me if you need more help.
posted by functionequalsform at 11:11 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

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