CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUN. 09, 2014
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How To Become An Advertising Copywriter

If you have a flair for creativity, are imaginative and have excellent writing skills, you might enjoy working as an Advertising Copywriter.   As the name suggests, Advertising Copywriters produce ‘copy’ for advertisements including text for printed ads, radio jingles and even scripts for TV commercials.

Your written communication skills are vital to this role as you’ll be using them to reach out to your audience, catch people’s attention and convey your message effectively.  You need a good understanding of the advertising industry together with good business sense.

Skills and qualities

A great Advertising Copywriter should have:

  • excellent writing skills including good grammar and spelling
  • a fertile imagination and creative streak
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • good team working and communication skills
  • the ability to take constructive criticism, to work under pressure and to deadlines
  • good general knowledge, research skills and an awareness of current trends and popular culture

The work

An Advertising Copywriter works closely with an art director whose job it is to provide the pictures or images to complement your copy.  Each project begins with a briefing so that you are familiar with the client, their target audience, the product and the advertising message they want to convey.

You would then:

  • work with the art director creating original concepts which fit the brief you have been given
  • meet with the agency’s creative director and account team and present your ideas to them
  • assist in presenting the ideas to your client
  • implement any changes that may be required by the client
  • ensure that the ad adheres to the codes of advertising practice
  • proof read your copy for grammar, spelling and factual accuracy
  • work with designers, production companies, printers and photographers

It’s likely that you would work on several projects simultaneously, under the supervision of your creative director.  You would write copy for a range of different types of media including:

  • digital
  • social media
  • direct
  • mobile marketing 

Hours

In general, you would work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, although you may have to work longer hours if you have a deadline to meet.  You would be mainly office-based, but you might have to travel to meet clients or visit photographic studios etc where advertisements are being put together.

Income

Starting salary

£18,000 to £25,000 per annum

With more experience

£25,000 to £50,000 per annum

Senior creative

In excess of £70,000 per annum

These figures are to an extent dependent upon the size of agency and its location.

Entry requirements

There are many ways to get into this job.  Not every agency demands a degree; you could enter the industry through an Apprenticeship or if you can show that you have good creativity, writing skills and business acumen.  The Apprenticeships available vary by area depending on the local jobs market and what employers are looking for.  The Creative Skillset and Apprenticeships websites both have more information on this.  http://creativeskillset.org/   http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/

That said; a degree in one of the following subjects would be advantageous:

  • English
  • creative writing
  • communication studies
  • advertising
  • journalism

There’s no substitute for experience.  If you can demonstrate this though internships, temporary employment or work experience placements, you will have a good chance of making a favourable impression with an employer.  The AdMISSION website has details of agencies that offer graduate schemes, internships and work experience.  http://www.theadmission.co.uk/industry-guide/work-experience

Another option would be to contact agencies direct to enquire about placements.  If you’re active on social media, you could make some useful industry contacts through Twitter or LinkedIn.  The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) website has a useful Work Experience section with a list of member agencies and plenty of helpful information.  http://www.ipa.co.uk/

When approaching potential employers, you’ll need to have a portfolio of your work and a website is also a useful showcase for your creativity and communication skills.  D&AD has some really good information and tools to help you create a portfolio and make contacts in the industry.  http://www.dandad.org/

Training and development

Training is typically carried out on-the-job as your career progresses.  In all cases you would start as a junior creative although larger advertising agencies usually have a structured graduate training scheme.

There are additional qualifications that you could work towards with courses at different levels depending on your experience and your existing qualifications.  These are offered by the IPA and Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM) and include:

  • CAM Diploma in Marketing Communications
  • IPA Excellence Diploma
  • IPA Foundation Certificate
  • IPA Advanced Certificate

More information can be found on the bodies’ websites together with details of upcoming events, workshops and short courses.  http://www.ipa.co.uk/cpd?menu=open   http://camfoundation.com/qualifications

Job opportunities

Although there are opportunities out there, advertising is a very popular career option for graduates and competition for places is fierce.  The majority of jobs are city-based, predominantly in London.

Most vacancies are advertised through the trade and national press and via the IPA website (see above) and specialist recruitment agencies.  It is worth approaching advertising agencies directly though as not all jobs are advertised.

The following industry publications make for useful reading and also have job vacancies advertised.

http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/  (Campaign)

http://www.creativereview.co.uk/ (Creative Review)

http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/ (Marketing Week)

http://www.theguardian.com/media (Media Guardian)

http://www.majorplayers.co.uk/ (Major Players)

http://uk.adforum.com/  (Adforum.com)

http://www.bubble-jobs.co.uk/career_portal/ (Bubble – Digital Career Portal)

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