We love welcoming new talent at bbd. And a few months ago, we welcomed Imi to the bbd copy team. In the initial interview with me and Gav, Imi impressed us with her calm approach and salient questions. This was backed up by some very nicely written travel articles from her experience working client-side.

As an agency, we’d weighed up hiring a middleweight vs a junior, and settled on a junior as we have a strong belief in talent development. But that begs the question, what talent does a junior copywriter need to get in the door? And what skills can the agency help them develop?

Maybe she’s born with it

For me, there is one talent that’s vital – natural writing ability. This is something you can’t teach. Either someone has an instinct for fluid prose, or they don’t. Word choice, sentence structure, paragraph building, assembling the whole piece – it has to come naturally. For me, making a judgement call on that ability isn’t difficult. But to make a successful hire, you also have to figure out how much further that person’s writing capabilities might stretch. Sometimes a copy test can help you figure this out. Sometimes, the interview gives you a steer. Either way, when you see scope in someone, it’s exciting and a big tick in the box.

Another key ability that I’ve seen in many successful copywriters is problem solving. Some problems demand logical thinking, others beg you to daydream. If you can do both, we can help you figure out when to apply which method.

What can we make of you?

If you’ve never worked in an agency before, even the most gifted writers have much to learn. And a lot of it is stuff that swirls around the actual copywriting. You need to get under the skin of the brands, each of which has its own unique brand voice. You have to get to grips with interpreting, interrogating and answering a brief. How best to present copy is another valuable skill, (and this is not always a Word doc). Copy often needs to be supported by a creative rationale, especially for conceptual work. And we haven’t even talked about learning how to work with design, artwork, dev, planning and client services. This is all part of the development that goes into creating a capable, confident copywriter. And that’s why everyone in the agency has a role in helping a junior copywriter develop in their role. It’s a team effort.

Better together

So, to return to the original question… For me, it’s clear that copywriters are made…but only from people born with innate writing abilities (and the mental energy to enjoy all the craziness of agency life). As an agency, we’re pleased that Imi joined us as our junior copywriter – and not just for her eclectic daily quiz that’s featured Wetherspoons pubs, killer coconuts and Tom Daley’s knitting abilities. Personally, I’m glad she’s on my team, bringing energy, humour and lovely writing to the copy department – and showing she has the scope to fly high.   

Sarah Compton
Senior copywriter