Debutant copywriters in India today face a unique dilemma. What kind of copywriter should they be? They could take the tried and tested path and opt for a mainline advertising agency or they could try their luck in a new and upcoming interactive agency. Writers who want to hedge their bets will choose an integrated agency, hoping to get the best of both worlds.
Why should someone consider getting into the interactive space? Well if you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, success is often the result of a number of things including circumstance, skills, chance and much more. Wannabe writers (freshers) trying to get into a large agency face stiff competition. They are a drop in the ocean and they struggle to differentiate themselves. This especially in a nation that for the most, does not speak English primarily. On the other hand there are fewer writers out there who are adept in the interactive space. Hard to believe you think, because everyone is online these days. Everybody seems to be social networking, blogging and what not. This however does not qualify a person to become an interactive copywriter.
So what does it take to be an interactive copywriter? To be frank since this is a very new space not many people know. It definitely has the HR people in a tizzy, when we search for new writers. The skills I speak of here are what I feel give a person an advantage. Well first and foremost and this is a no-brainer, you’ve got to be able to write. You need to be able to ideate at the drop of a hat, cobble together a convincing sentence and need to know when to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. But that’s what most writers in advertising need.
The interactive writer is a queer blend. An internet junkie of sorts and fascinated by all things related to computers. Writing online goes beyond the idea and written word. The rabbit hole of online writing delves deeply into technical knowhow (which often determines the feasibility of the idea and even at times the starting point) and keeping abreast with the latest developments. What developments? Well everything from the latest browsers, the latest marketing programs using the medium, the latest videos to go viral. Basically, everything that is happening online.
But what are the skills really? Well, understanding basic HTML takes you a long way. And if you know CSS, nothing like it! Up next is managing a content management system. Bloggers have no fear, its not too different from managing your own blog. Though some CMS systems like Drupal and other PHP based systems can prove to be tricky. A working knowledge of how Flash works (in terms of design) and hands on knowledge of Photoshop is also ideal.
It’s always good to layer up with those degrees. I for one value a post graduate, MBA, MSC or any other such qualification. The candidate usually brings a degree of maturity and broader skills that are acquired while pursuing further education. However every diploma and qualification that you have got and that is relevant is always to your advantage.
Finally a love for advertising and selling the product seals the deal. Glory hounds who are searching for awards, well there are some agencies searching for that, my agency doesn’t. And finally, if you fall victim to a copy test, just be yourself. I have dismissed writers who try so hard to impress with use of complex words. Oh and before I forget, its a Saturday and I am writing this blog from office… need I say more.