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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Although most of us were raised in an environment where education was the priority, and writing a required skill, it doesn't always translate into effective copy writing.  Composing a well researched article is not the same as firing off an email and although we all have the ability to write, few of us have the ability to do so while being informative and entertaining. I’ve come into contact with countless agencies who have tried to outsource copywriting either for simple articles that will be syndicated for SEO purposes, or for blog posts that need to be of a high standard.

Every digital media agency should have an in-house copywriter, yet so few do. Many have copywriters and don’t even know it. It is likely your copywriter will also be an account manager or a web developer or one of your social media strategists. In print media this issue doesn’t exist because it’s an old industry, it’s been around for decades and due to the very nature of the industry good copywriting is heralded with the respect it deserves. But online marketing is still a relatively infantile world, still figuring out its morals and values.

Engaging copy is essential for marketing, it is the backbone of any successful campaign, on or offline. And trivial spelling or punctuation mistakes can not only overshadow a good campaign but can overtake it too, becoming the amusing focal point which quickly goes viral and turns the brand into a laughing stock. Not everyone can write engaging copy, it is a skill. It’s a skill that can be taught, true, but also a skill that must be practised, refined and implemented confidently, and unfortunately the majority of marketing agencies don’t seem to have the time for this sort of employee investment.

Those workers that have ten, twenty, thirty years experience in copywriting and are looking to branch out into online marketing are getting ignored due to an abundance of fledging search engine marketers and social media junkies who can cram a few keywords into a semi-literate sentence.
But the economic climate is also a contributing factor.  Both established and start-up marketing agencies have been and still are struggling over the last few years.  The recession has forced people to cut corners and save money where they can, so a skill such as copywriting - which everyone should be able to do anyway, is one of the first to get neglected.  Rather than pay more money on quality content, cheaper outgoing is a more attractive option.
These days copywriters need to work harder than ever to garner recognition. Producing dazzling content on time and on budget is no longer enough, we need to have a list of on and offline editorial contacts, we need to regularly contribute pieces to a range of different outlets, the more varied the material the better, and we need to save time to promote ourselves, our content and our expanding skill set.
Special thanks to our guest post contributor Zac Colbert. Zac Colbert is a writer wading through the SEO industry one debunked issue at a time, covering topics as diverse as sustainable living, online dating sites and music journalism.


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