Over the years the role of Brand Content Writer has been on the rise. It’s called a few different things. Brand Copywriter. Maybe just Copywriter. Basically it’s a person that writes a variety of copy for all kinds of different things within an organization.
My first job out of college was for a footwear catalog company. They had several brands and several catalogs. They had a team of copywriters that wrote product descriptions for shoes in the catalogs. For some of the catalogs they also helped write a little newsletter-type message at the front of the catalog.
It was a very defined role. Right around the time I joined the company they were really starting to get more traction with selling on their various websites. And the copywriters were learning about writing product descriptions for the web. They started by just using the same copy. That made a lot of sense from a time and energy standpoint.
But the two channels were different. Catalogs were all about space. Brevity. Online had basically unlimited space. And people online seemed to take more time to read more copy. It was a learning curve and still is today.
There are a couple points here. First, brand copywriters aren’t going away. They’re more important than ever. Second, the copy landscape is always changing. That makes the job more difficult. And more difficult to hire for.
Here are a few thoughts on how to handle it for your organization.
1. Discover Your Brand
A brand is really something you discover. You can’t really define it. You can’t really chase it. It’s who you are. The person you are is developed over decades. If you start a company your traits bleed into the company. And the people you hire likely match your most important values.
So if you’re a founder, manager or whatever, you probably have traits that match the traits of your company. In order to continue hiring the right people it’s good to consider what defines your brand. It’s especially important for a brand copywriter because you’ll need to trust them to write content that the public will read.
2. Writing For Channels, Current and Future
The writer is going to have to write all kinds of content. Product descriptions, video description, social media posts and much more. Company descriptions for social media. Comments and responses on social media.
Your company may be large enough to hire multiple writers. But a lot of medium sized companies will hire one person to start. And that person will have to be versatile. So look for someone that has experience writing for a lot of different channels. Try to learn if they’ve been able to adapt to changing channels. Maybe they started writing product descriptions, but recently have been doing a lot of podcast overviews and descriptions.
3. Look For Shared Values
Try to set up the interviews with little tests so you get to know the person and what their values are. For example, if timeliness is a value of your company, try to set up a few little deadlines for the person. See if they’re able to deliver things on time.
Or perhaps creativity is critical to your company. Look for little clues in their fashion style or their hobbies and things like that. Nothing crazy. But values are incredibly important and you want to find someone that is a good fit. There are no right or wrong answers. Every organization has different values. Finding the right fit makes for a good long-term relationship. Or at least the best odds of one.
4. Autonomy Within A Basic Framework
You want the writer to have autonomy. Writers are usually creative people. But all of us need a little direction. I remember reading a story about Waylon Jennings. By the later part of his career he basically had total freedom from his record label. But that actually hindered him a bit. He could do anything but he wasn’t sure exactly what to do. So he tried doing it all and it led to very little output.
Give your writer a little framework. Give them the basic traits of your company. What you stand for. What’s important. What’s important not to do. Maybe give them word count restrictions based on the channel. Just the core things.
Then let them be creative inside those boundaries. Don’t micro-manage.
5. Pay Attention To Early Signs
Bring the person on. Then pay attention to what they’re doing. Good and bad. Try to communicate how you’re feeling about what they’re doing. Look for signs of improvement, comfort and confidence. But also look for red flags that maybe the person doesn’t fit your values.
People change in some ways over time. But they also don’t change in ways. Especially when it comes to values.
Hiring is not an easy thing. Not for any position. But new positions, like brand writers, can be really tricky. I find that it’s really important to try to figure out the values aspect. Do your best. Hire who you think is right. Then watch them for indications that they’re right. If yes, keep letting them grow. If not, try to move on so you’re both not stuck in a bad situation for the long-term.