Copywriting is the use of words and ideas to promote a person, business, opinion or idea. Although the word copy may be applied to any content intended for printing (as in the body of a newspaper article or book), the term copywriter is generally limited to promotional situations, regardless of the medium (as advertisements for print, television, radio or other media). The word copywriting is regularly used as a noun or gerund.
The purpose of marketing copy, or promotional text, is to persuade the reader, listener or viewer to act—for example, to buy a product or subscribe to a certain viewpoint.
Copy writers 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. It can also appear in social media content including blog posts, tweets, and social-networking site posts.
Content writing on websites may include among its 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.
Most copy writers are employees within organizations such as advertising agencies, public relations firms, company advertising departments, large stores, marketing firms, broadcasters and cable providers, newspapers, book publishers and magazines. Copy writers can also be independent contractors who freelance 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 copy writer usually works as part of a creative team. Advertising agencies partner copy writers with art directors. The copy writer has ultimate responsibility for the advertisement’s verbal or textual content, which often includes receiving the copy information from the client. The copy writer is responsible for telling the story, crafting it in such a way that it resonates with the viewer/reader, ideally producing an emotional response. 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 or “big idea”), and the process of collaboration often improves the work.
Copy writers 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.