Many small to medium-sized agencies staff just one in-house copywriter. Others rely solely on contractors. If you’re like me, a freelancer who moved in-house, one thing you miss is that go-to person to bounce your copy (or ideas) off of. For some projects you still work closely with the Creative Director—shaping, scheming and strategizing before sending work off to the client. Other times you work directly with the client to solidify the language, tone and messaging. But for many other projects you are essentially on your own, stripped of that line of defense between your work and its audience.
So for all my in-house brothers and sisters out there, I offer this advice: collaborate with those around you, even if they aren’t writers. In my experience, if you work at an agency full of talented, creative people, you work with a lot of good writers—whether they think of themselves that way or not. Obviously you can’t send every draft of every copy deck around the office, but if you’re creative (and patient), you can create a collaborative environment that will ultimately help you feel less alone as the sole “writer” at an agency.
Designers—if they’re any good—have an inherent understanding of the way content functions. Since one of a designer’s main concerns is keeping a document or web page clean and simple, they are usually good editors, at least in a general sense of balancing content and space. However, if pushed further, you will most likely find a sharp editorial confidant.
Developers and Programmers use a combination of design, logic and analytics to do their job. They are good researchers and have to be extremely organized. Therefore, they are good individuals to share your outline with (or, in more of a content strategy arena, your site map drafts).
Project Managers have to articulate themselves clearly and concisely on a daily basis as they interact with clients, prepare SOWs, and create punch lists. I’ve found that PM’s are naturally good with headlines and taglines. Send them a list of your top 5 and they are usually quick to offer some useful feedback.
The people you work with at an agency are extremely valuable to you as a copywriter. The work they do is (literally) the conduit between your voice and those reading it. So it’s important to always be asking questions and trying to understand their perspective on the projects you are working on. With developers in particular, I’ve started scheduling a weekly dialogue to help me better understand their world. This basically amounts to me asking them questions and them trying to translate their answers into a language I can understand. While it can be challenging (for both parties, I’m sure), it’s extremely rewarding when I learn something about our digital services or capabilities that I didn’t know, or fully understand, before.