If you work in a creative agency and there is a shambling, ragged figure shuffling moodily around the office then it’s more than likely you have your very own copywriter.
While it’s not a good idea to get too close to these bumbling, snarling creatures, you must resist the urge to drive them from the building with pointed sticks and ‘man’s red fire’.
I speak from a well-informed place. I myself am a copywriter (don’t tell my wife, she thinks I work in a more honourable profession, like sharpening the harpoons onboard a whaling fleet).
Having dragged my pencil across the page for many years I have seen the marketing space change beyond recognition. The digital world has somehow managed to both creep up on me and utterly engulf me in a series of subtle yet enormous strides.
And yet, despite this terrifying new online world (in which the previously pointless ‘hashtag’ has emerged as the most unlikely of champions) I remain more convinced than ever in the significance of words in successful marketing.
The truth is that for every astonishing new visual or technological innovation that arrives, there are 10 million voices waiting to dissect, celebrate or deride it.
In this sense, we live in an unprecedented time for the power of the words. A time in which the written expression of joy, disappointment or sneering fury can batter even the most powerful and expensively assembled of corporate developments or messages in a matter of seconds.
And although I am perfectly aware of the resounding tone of self-justification in this piece, I can’t help but feel that the measured precision of the professional copywriter is the most effective defence against the frothing howls of the Tweeters, the bloggers and the iPhone pundits.
Far from becoming eradicated by the abundance of voices emanating from the crowd, the professional copywriter has a more significant role than ever to play in impactful, provocative and persuasive communication.
If the average Twitter enthusiast is faced with hundreds of messages a day, how much stronger does the copywriter’s headline have to be to challenge perception, let alone command action?
If a digital consumer is bellowed at relentlessly by an unfiltered, disordered chime of the contentious, the scurrilous and the ferociously subjective, how much more eloquent does a copywriter’s message have to be to provoke a response?
A simple analogy would be the pretty girl who is standing in a disco (yes, ‘disco’, I am old and wildly uncool) being harassed by a dozen different, though equally noisy and unimaginative, suitors.
Surely the young man who quietly hands her the simple, charmingly worded note is most likely to be the one that ends up courting her (yes, ‘courting’).
So while the world of communication is moving at a tooth-loosening pace, it can never and will never race beyond its own reliance on the perfectly chosen word.
That’s why you should be nice to your copywriter. Bring them biscuits, try not to openly snigger at their cardigans, maybe even give them a cautious hug.
Actually, just the biscuits will be fine.
Andrew Boulton is a copywriter at the Together Agency
Writer image via Shutterstock
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