Intern Interview – Hillary Bergman
As a University of Michigan Literature and Language student, I am constantly being challenged, yet captivated as a Digital Strategist Intern at Bayard. It seemed that this was what the advertising world was all about, and that I would just have to get up to speed on-the-job if I wanted to continue in this field without switching my major. That was, well, until I met Deborah Correa, Bayard’s copywriter.
She only arrived this past December, but has been critical to us ever since. Her previous experiences include per-project based freelance film writing, and working in the creative department of Disney. Having been a documentary filmmaker and fashion blogger, combined with her having a degree in filmmaking and writing, has translated to bringing unmatched creativity to our campaigns.
The majority of our interview consisted of me scrambling to write down every word she said, because the advice she was sharing about being a copywriter was truly smart and achievable. Correa stressed the importance of having good ideas, and following that with good execution. Similarly, she said that understanding that different clients expect different things is important, and you have to be able to work with all of them. Obviously, writing skills are critical, too. Other tidbits that I learned from her include the necessity of knowing language and grammatical skills better than anyone else. “People notice good writing,” she said, “Most people write the way they speak, which isn’t grammatically correct, and you have to be able to tell people when they’re wrong and then be able to show that; you really just have to know more than they do.”
When asked how the copywriting division is changing with the times, Correa replied, “Social Media is changing, and what works in those fields. It is most important to know your audience.” Bayard writes banner ads, website ads, mobile ads and more, and the same copy format doesn’t necessarily work for each of those different platforms. “It’s about figuring out how to be creative with non-creative stuff…it’s important to work with the currency of ideas,” Correa noted.
In my efforts to compile a list of what everyone here believes is differentiating about Bayard, Correa told me that, “Bayard is in a niche market, specifically recruitment marketing; it’s the bread and butter of the company. We have big clients like LG but what we do is really try and get in the head of the jobseeker.” Furthermore, that would include jobseekers in whatever realm they are looking to pursue. This makes Correa’s job especially important, because she has to create new copy for all of our clients, many in different markets.
I asked her to share with me the process of getting copy from conception to customers, and she laid it out: “First, there’s a kickoff meeting with the client and the creative director, then research, brainstorming…a lot of trial and error. Sometimes you just have to stop and take a step back from the idea and it could come to you over the weekend or something. For something like the Expedia career site, there is a lot of strategic thinking that takes a lot of time. With a lot of these ads, we have to help redesign and rebuild these company’s ads and sometimes their brand strategy.” I then paused and questioned, “but with a method like this, would you say copywriting is creative, or mechanical?”
She responded matter-of-factly, “Firstly, and most importantly, it is creative. The beginning is creative and then the execution is mechanical. I’d say it’s more creative than mechanical.”
A lot of her advice opened up my eyes to what is actually required of working in the advertising industry, versus everything we see on Mad Men. Correa stressed, “The hardest thing is that some of the clients don’t know how to tell their own story in a compelling way, which is why they don’t always know what they want.” Insert the trial-and-error period, and the root of our services.
Correa’s final words are now essential to me in my pursuit writing, as an English student, and as an aspiring advertiser. She simply told me to write; to write a blog about something you are interested in, something you can showcase. She told me to work for mastery of writing, and to make sure it can stand on it’s own. For example, if you have a fashion blog, yet are trying to be an editor—regardless of topic—make sure that your writing skills shine through.