Writers communicate; copywriters may face toughest communications tasks

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It’s a “given,” I think, that writers communicate. Not just writers, but speakers; anyone who uses language as their stock in trade specializes in communications.

I’ve often thought that copywriters face some of the toughest communications tasks of all: They not only must explain or communicate features/benefits — they also must persuade people to use that information and take some kind of action. And often, copywriters are asked to communicate in ways that are impossible. For example, how would you write about food processors, or the value of a Louis Vuitton handbag, or the workings of a Honeywell Barcode Scanner, or the importance of any one of a million other high-tech, culturally alien gadgets and goodies to someone who has spent their life deep in the Amazon rain forests?

Of course, that’s an extreme analogy, but I think it’s a valid point. Written communication is always hard, and may sometimes seem impossible to those language warriors we call copywriters. Personally, I’d rather write fiction than find ways to persuade people to buy something or go somewhere or even fill out a simple questionnaire as the result of my copywriting. After all, writing fiction means that I have complete liberty to “fake it” or make it up as I go along. Of course, some ad writers could be accused of the same attitude toward “truth” or reality — but the best copywriters don’t fake it, they tell it with passion and drive their readers to take action.

How about you? Any copywriters out there who wish to comment? What’s the single hardest task you face? How do you approach such matters as cross-cultural communication? Leave us a comment and share your expertise with us, please.

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