You did it! You landed a job or a freelance gig and you’re flying high. Every day, you get the chance to work with bright creatives and an inspiring creative director. You’re working hard and thinking big…but there are still a few things you need to do to stay on your creative director’s good side. Read on…
Today’s question comes from Karen R., who asks, “I just love my new creative director! I won’t suck up or anything, but is there anything I can do to help me keep a good relationship with her?”
Well Karen, the basic answer is to keep working hard and trying to improve the work you do. Be willing to help out wherever you can and play nicely with others. But you pretty much knew all of that already, right?
So instead of giving you ways to stay on his good side, I want to make sure you’re aware of things to avoid. With that said, here are three phrases you might be tempted to say that drive creative directors crazy.
1. “I don’t know.” Now, I don’t mean saying “I don’t know” if your CD asks the score of a ballgame last night or if the office kitchen is still out of milk, of course—I mean saying “I don’t know” when your CD asks you why you did something in your copy.
If your CD asks why you chose a word, opted to include one detail over another or any other detail about your copy, “I don’t know” is absolutely not going to cut it. You have to know. You need to have a reason for every single choice you make in your copy—it’s part of being a professional copywriter. If you don’t have a reason, you’re proving that you didn’t put in as much thought as you should have. And you’ll make your creative director crazy.
2. “Yeah, I thought you’d say that.” You’ve been slaving over a newspaper ad for a few hours when it’s time to have your creative director take a look at it. He or she looks it over and then gives you one major piece of feedback, to which you reply, “Yeah, I thought you’d say that.” If you thought your CD would offer that feedback, why didn’t you already incorporate it?
Now, don’t get me wrong—it’s okay to let this happen once or twice when you’re new to a team and still learning the creative director and the brand’s style. But once you start anticipating the feedback your creative director gives you, you need to start incorporating it before it gets to them.
Learning to figure out which elements of your copy could be better and fixing them is crucial in your growth as a writer. If you skip that step and just go to your creative director with your first draft of copy to get your hunch validated, you’re cheating yourself out of this growth. And you’re also wasting your CD’s time by asking for the feedback you already knew would be coming.
3. “I know you asked for that, but…” You’ve taken your copy to your creative director and he or she has asked you to incorporate something. But you didn’t like it, or it didn’t feel right, or any one of a myriad of other reasons. So, instead of following your CD’s guidance, you just skipped it. Bad move.
Your creative director will probably have at least 7-to-10 years of experience on you—not to mention the fact that he or she is your boss. And a suggestion is one thing, but a directive is another thing, entirely. When he/she makes a recommendation, you’d better follow it.
“But wait,” you ask, “what if it really isn’t the best solution?” Good question. And, honestly, that will probably happen a decent amount of time. In that case, you do both: Create a version with your CD’s directive and a version with your solution so that you can show him/her both of them. This allows both of you to evaluate the two against each other and also gives you an opportunity to display your problem-solving skills. Simply presenting them as “Here’s the version you asked for, but I thought I’d try this as well to [insert your reason here]” will work perfectly.
Now, after you’ve been working with your creative director for a while, you may not need to do this. You may (and probably will) get to the point where he or she trusts your skills enough to evaluate their suggestion in layout and veto it in favor of a better one. But don’t rush this step. Make sure that you and your CD really are on the same page before starting to consider recommendations as suggestions.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re on a creative team to write great copy, but to also learn from your creative director. Finding this balance between novice and expert can be tricky, but it’s a major part of your career development. And you can make your creative director an asset in this development…or you can drive them crazy. It’s entirely up to you.
Your turn! What do you think might make creative directors crazy? Or what have you said that they liked? Let us know in the comments below!