January is here. And it’s the time of the year when every copywriter starts to be so absorbed by the yearly grind of annual report writing. I can see copywriters around me are preparing and twitching either because of their enthusiasm or grogginess upon embarking on a new project (or if you’re quite lucky – a few new projects in hand).
Working as an annual report copywriter is not for everyone self-claiming to be a writer. Even if you think you’re a best-selling novelist whose linguistic skills are no doubt one of the best on the earth’s surface like J. K. Rowling, you may not find annual report copywriting as sexy as writing your fantasy characters and their life journeys.
We know few fiction writers who can also have a knack for copywriting. One of these is Salman Rushdie, who used to work as a copywriter for the spectacularly renowned agency, Ogilvy and Mather, where the founder is forever reminding the rest of the company:”The consumer is not a moron. She’s your wife.”
Still quoted from Rushdie, being a copywriter has also instilled an invaluable skill on himself as a novelist. It’s when he worked as a part-time copywriter there that he learned that copywriting is actually fun ONLY IF done 2-3 days a week. Done more than that, you’ll find yourself deluged in an ocean of workload which flows incessantly days and nights and early mornings and weekends as well.
If there were something that working as a copywriter in the advertising industry taught Rushdie, it would really be this: “DISCIPLINE”. It forces you to learn to get on with whatever tasks needed to finish. No excuse whatsoever. There’s no artistic romanticism such as writer’s block. That’s a ‘privilege’ only amateurish writers can use when they need a shield from guilt of not doing meaningful work. Sounds too familiar?
But as I work with some copywriters (because I am one myself), I can draw a conclusion that there are some qualities an annual report copywriter must possess that people think are so obvious but actually are not that essential.
Of course, there’re qualities we assume a copywriter must have, such as:
- flawless writing skills
- speedy and accurate translation ability
- eagle-eye editing skills
- a rapid and effective typist
- ability of presenting ideas to potential clients
- flexibility of working
It’s all technical, anyway. It’s more about amazing linguistic skills and aptitude.
However, as far as I can see it, those hard skills are not that difficult to acquire (provided that one has a decent intelligence prowess, not necessarily stellar one at all). But if I have to come up with one single quality of a top-rate copywriter, it would be
A NICE PERSONALITY
I am saying that a copywriter doesn’t necessarily have to act as an entertainer in front of his or her clients. A copywriter just needs to be the best version of him or herself. There’s no rudeness in attitude and behaviors.
Some copywriters are known to be highly skillful, eccentric and weird personalities but they’re people with lower sense of humor and an unbeatable degree of pig-headedness.
This kind of copywriter is of course able to produce high quality of work. But does a client want to come back next time if you’re a less pleasant personality? As far as I’m concerned, they may but do they want to see you as a person? No.
When you’re a copywriter working on annual reports which at times entails long long long working hours and full focus at an ungodly hour, you’d better tone yourself down so you can get along with others during the ‘marathon’, leaving a good impression and more than that, a life-long track record. (*)
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