What Are Your Copywriting Ethics?


Copywriting and the responsibilities of both the writer and the writer’s employer to the end reader-customer – and to each other – is the basis for any successful collaboration. A lot has been written on the subject, but where do you begin?

Copywriting Ethics Basics

What do you give to the mix?

On my Pinterest, I came across the pin to the left. It got me thinking that by answering some questions based on these concepts, writers (W) + employers (E) = readers might be able to better identify and target their expectations in the equation. Here are some examples that come to mind.

Courteous(W) – Do you present materials and accept change suggestions with an open mind? (E) – Do you see your relationship as peer-peer or employer-employee? Do both of you ever consider a reader’s feelings as opposed to what price point they represent?

Excellence(W) – Have you developed a way to present your standards quickly in an easily understandable way? (E) – Are you willing to pay more for someone who is talented, proven and dedicated to making your message work?

Honesty(W) – Will you admit what you can or can’t bring to the project, even if it may lose you the job? (Think hard on that one.) (E) – Is what you are asking the writer to sell the reader on real? Or are you ‘fudging’ a bit to close the sale?

Respect(W) and (E) Can you get to the point and get it done with as little wasted time as possible? (Remember, you are giving up some hours of your limited life to do this. Make them count?)

Responsibility(W) Will you actually provide what you have promised to, and according to deadline? (E) Will you make your guidelines and expectations definite and clear from the beginning? (W) and (E) – Who takes the hit if the reader message doesn’t work? Who fixes it and how?

Self-Control(W) and (E) – Can you keep your cool and find a solution if things go ‘sideways’, as they often do? Can you leave your egos at home?

Finally keep in mind that a writer-employer relationship often resembles a marriage – definitely for better or for worse. Flexibility is the key to keeping it alive.

Your interpretations on the above are, indeed, yours. I would love to hear some of them though.

Photo courtesy of theharvardwriters.com.

dennis.dean.smith @ gmail.com

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4 thoughts on “What Are Your Copywriting Ethics?

  1. Hi Dennis, Good post – I found it thought provoking. It’s so easy to skim over a few words like the ones on Pinterest, and say “Of course”, without really thinking seriously about each word and its implications. Thanks for drawing out the implications and promoting deeper thought.

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