Today, copywriting, and the lot of a copywriter when presented with negative feedback.
It’s not often you get a piece totally right first time. You can be as thorough as possible with the copy brief, but you’ll find from time to time that people prefer to see a written piece before they really start to think about what’s required. And when I say ‘people’, I mean separate individuals: they will all review it, independently, and add what they think are a few comments. In toto however, this becomes a wash of revision marks and comments, and when they return to the copywriter they can be very dispiriting.
Everyone reads something and thinks they can add to it. In fact, I think they feel compelled to do so, because it’s a direct message. It doesn’t have the ambiguity or interpretation of an image: it’s something more tangible, something they are actually ‘saying’, through you, to the world. Naturally everyone involved wants to comment, even if just to put their mark on it.
So far, I’ve articulated the reason. But emotionally, for a copywriter, it’s hard. Even if you write a fairly routine piece, you put something of yourself into it. Even if it’s just a standard contract win press announcement, when changes come back, it’s a knock-back.
You have to keep in mind, always, that you’re working for the client. You have to understand that non-positive feedback is not necessarily negative: it just means it’s different. If you believe you’re right, you must say so and give reasoning. If the client disagrees, you get one, maybe two shots at convincing them otherwise, but at the end of the day you have to give the client what they are happy with, whether or not you personally believe it’s right. You will get it right second, maybe third time around.
You have to be like a brain surgeon. Effectively you’re plunging into someone else’s brain and finding out what’s in there. Sometimes you have to do this dispassionately.
I digress. How does a copywriter handle difficult feedback? Professionally, with distinction. Personally, with difficulty.
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