Let’s get one thing clear from the outset – I love my job. I feel extremely lucky that I get to sit and create copy all day long. Writing is a passion of mine and I consider myself blessed that this is my professional responsibility. My account handling colleagues think I’m crazy and tell me that they wouldn’t be able to sit at their desk from morning until evening writing. I just smile as I watch them leaving for yet another meeting to mollify an unreasonable client.
However, as much as I love my job, I still do have a couple of peeves I would like to get off my chest. Even the happiest PR copywriter has the odd gripe or two, as I guess does everyone who truly enjoys their occupation. So, in the spirit of good natured moaning and without any malice intended, here are my eight current favourite PR copywriter annoyances:
- Having to proof-read another agency’s releases when involved in a joint project and not being allowed to change the content. Such recent gems have included great examples of tautology. “First-ever inaugural awards” anyone? And “the client is a leading pioneer…” Is there any other kind?
- Colleagues interrupting your schedule and asking you to “just take a quick look at this – it will only take you a minute.” Sure, the ‘look’ only takes a minute, but the extensive revisions the document requires takes you the rest of the afternoon.
- Multiple client-side recipients of your copy who contradict each other with their feedback. You send the copy to them, it is returned with amendment requests. You make the amendments and send again, only for it to come back with a different set of requests from someone else.
- Briefs that ask you to write 1,200 words for a client’s product or service with no information provided. The analogy I have for this is a builder being told to construct a mansion and only being given twelve bricks to do so.
- Marketing managers who don’t understand that a 600-word stipulation from an editor means exactly that. They send your original 600-word copy back with additional information that takes it well over the word count. You edit the copy down, re-send it, and they come back to you with even more information added.
- Marketing managers that insist you add superlatives and adjectives to big-up their product or service. I suppose it is their job to think that their brand is the most newsworthy thing on the planet, but it is your job to make the release as objective as possible so that it doesn’t read like pure ‘fluff.’
- Marketing managers who don’t understand how PR works and who constantly ask: “where are you publishing this?” No matter how many times you inform them that publication is at the discretion of the editor, they still demand to know where it is going to appear.
- Senior agency colleagues who using their position to leapfrog the schedule push all other deliverables back. You end up prioritising unfairly while the poor junior account executive is left to explain to her client why their press release request from a week ago still hasn’t been actioned. Come on fellas… we’re a team!
Well that’s great – I feel much better already. Of course, these are just minor niggles in what is a great occupation. PR copywriters can use their creativity to form the written output narrative for a range of clients. You are their voice and get to influence how they are perceived in the market place. At the end of the day, this to me is what makes PR copywriting a very rewarding career indeed.