||This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (March 2014)|
Copywriting is written content conveyed through online media and print materials. Copy is content primarily used for the purpose of advertising or marketing. This type of written material is often used to persuade a person or group as well as raise brand awareness.
Copywriters (known as continuity writers in broadcasting) are used to help create direct mail pieces, taglines, jingle lyrics, web page content (although if the purpose is not ultimately promotional, its author might prefer to be called a content writer), online ads, e-mail and other Internet content, television or radio commercial scripts, press releases, white papers, catalogs, billboards, brochures, postcards, sales letters, and other marketing communications media pages. In book publishing, flap copy and jacket flap copy describe the brief summary of a book which often appears on the inside of the book's hardcover dust jacket; back cover copy is similar, often briefer text placed on the book's outside back cover; catalog copy is another book summary maintained in a publisher's catalog of published books. Copy can also appear in social media content including blog posts, tweets, and social-networking site posts.
Most copywriters are employed within organizations such as advertising agencies, public relations firms, company advertising departments, large stores, marketing firms, broadcasters and cable providers, newspapers, book publishers, magazines and creative agencies. Copywriters can also be independent contractors who do freelance writing for a variety of clients, at the clients' offices or working from their own, or partners or employees in a specialized copywriting agency. Such agencies combine copywriting services with a range of editorial and associated services that may include positioning and messaging consulting, social media and SEO consulting, developmental editing, and copy editing, proofreading, fact checking, layout, and design. A copywriting agency most often serves large corporations.
A copywriter usually works as part of a creative team. Advertising agencies partner copywriters with art directors. The copywriter contributes in creating an advertisement's verbal or textual content, which often includes receiving the copy information from the client. The copywriter is responsible for producing compelling and persuasive content and the art director has ultimate responsibility for visual communication and, particularly in the case of print work, may oversee production. Although, in many instances, either person may come up with the overall idea for the advertisement or commercial (typically referred to as the concept) and the process of collaboration often improves the work.
Copywriters are similar to technical writers and the careers may overlap. Broadly speaking, however, technical writing is dedicated to informing readers rather than persuading them. For example, a copywriter writes an ad to sell a car, while a technical writer writes the operator's manual explaining how to use it. Famous copywriters include Dashiell Hammett, Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, Robert Collier, William Bernbach, Lester Wunderman, and Leo Burnett. Many creative artists spent some of their career as copywriters before becoming famous, including Bob Newhart, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Peter Carey, Dorothy L. Sayers, Eric Ambler, Joseph Heller, Terry Gilliam, William S. Burroughs, Salman Rushdie, Don DeLillo, Lawrence Kasdan, Alan Parker, Murray Walker, Fay Weldon, Philip Kerr and Shigesato Itoi. (Herschell Gordon Lewis, on the other hand, became famous for directing violent exploitation films, then became a very successful copywriter.)
The Internet has expanded the range of copywriting opportunities to include web content, ads, emails, blogs, social media and other forms of electronic communications. Writing for the web is very different from writing for other media, tending to be more succinct than traditional advertising. Other stylistic nuances also come into play. It has also brought new opportunities for copywriters to learn their craft, conduct research and view others' work. The Internet has also made it easier for employers, copywriters and art directors to find each other.
As a consequence of these factors, along with increased use of independent contractors and virtual commuting generally, freelancing has become a more viable job option, particularly in certain copywriting specialties and markets.
Web copy may include, among its other objectives, the achievement of higher rankings in search engines. Known as "organic" search engine optimization (SEO), this practice involves the strategic placement and repetition of keywords and keyword phrases on web pages, writing in a manner that human readers would consider normal.
SEO copywriting is a much maligned industry, but done correctly can be highly beneficial for the website and the reader. Keywords themselves have given way, in large part, to so called long-tail keywords - these are surfaced much more naturally by search engines, but should not be used more than three times in a given piece of copy.
Much like traditional journalist writers, a good copywriter will write and produce work that follows a code of ethics. Whether it is freelance work or contributing to the creative process within an organization, ethical content should always be present. With so many types of new media present in today's writing industry, making sure that you are educated with journalism ethics and standards as well as a code of ethics in media when producing online content is crucial.
Some main points to remember when writing ethical content are:
Honesty- Sharing information that is truthful and accurate is a hallmark of an ethical writer. It is the responsibility of the writer to ensure accurate content.
Plagiarism- Plagiarism should be avoided at all costs. A successful copywriter will create unique content for their clients.
Integrity- Bias reviews and content that is generated to skew perception should be addressed carefully. This type of content does not convey a truthful message or compel the reader/viewer to form an individual understanding of the message.
Reliability- Rule number one for a successful copywriter is the ability to be relied upon. It is good business to operate in a way that delivers content in the time frame agreed upon.
Kindness- Writing in a way that does not slander a group or individual is to operate ethically. It is best practice to convey information that is factual.
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