Creative directors will be some of the most important people you’ll work with in your life. They have the power to make you into the best copywriter you can be. But how can you maximize any relationship with a creative director? Read on…
Today’s question comes from Eli K. who asks, “I am so in awe of my creative director. (Honestly, I’m a little afraid of him, too…) I really want to do the best I can for him. Do you have any tips to help me stay on his good side?”
A great creative director will do his or her best to build your skills as a copywriter and as a professional, but they’re also very busy people. They’re pulled in a million different directions and sometimes you need a cheatsheet to figure out what their expectations are of you.
So, in the spirit of that cheatsheet, here are five things your creative director wishes you knew:
1. They don’t want all your lines—just the good ones.
A lot of new copywriters want to make sure their creative director knows they worked really hard on a line. So, when their CD asks them to send over a couple of lines, they send over everything they’ve thought of, as if to say “See? I really have been working hard!”
But creative directors don’t want to see all of your work—they only wants to see the good stuff. And they want to know that you know the difference!
Now, sometimes, if you get stuck, your creative director may ask to see everything, so that they can see your line of thought and help send you in the right direction. In that case, send it all. But otherwise, cull out the ones that don’t make the cut, and only send your best.
2. They want you to ask questions.
Creative directors can be intimidating. And new copywriters are eager to please. But sometimes that translates into, “I don’t want to ask questions because I don’t want him to think I don’t know!”
But…if you don’t know something, your creative director can’t help you until you ask. They’re not mind readers. And when you’re new, there’s going to be a lot you don’t know. They want you to ask questions.
They also want you to ask questions of the product/project managers. You need to ask questions to the people who actually have the answers. If the question is about a project and you know the product manager has the answer, don’t waste time asking other people or, worse, guessing. Go straight to the source, get the information, and keep chugging along.
3. They want you to start out wild, not safe.
When new copywriters are concepting, they tend to start with copy lines and concepts that feel safe. But the problem is, it’s very hard to take a concept that’s safe and stretch it to push the envelope. It’s much easier to start out with a wilder, riskier project and then rein yourself in.
You’re not going to impress your creative director with a safe project. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope—keeping in mind all of your essential copywriting principles, of course. Your creative director will always be much happier gently guiding you back from the wild side than pulling teeth trying to get you to let go of “safe.”
4. They want you to take initiative.
As I mentioned before, creative directors are busy. Your CD means well, but you just aren’t always going to be top of mind. And that means that when you want or need something, you need to speak up.
If you want to progress your career in a certain way, take initiative and book time with your CD. If you think a project is going off the rails, take initiative and talk to the project manager. If you have a great idea for a new campaign for a client, take initiative and mock something up to show to your creative director.
No one’s going to take your hand and guide you into success. It’s up to you to get there yourself. And the key to getting there? Initiative.
5. They want you to have their job someday.
Sure, there are probably some megalomaniacal creative directors that want to hold on to their jobs until they die, but most creative directors know they won’t keep that role forever—and wouldn’t want to! They want to move on and up, too.
They want to retain and mold the most talented people, and they want to help you develop the kinds of skills that you’ll need to be a creative director yourself someday.
Yes, you need to put in your time and, yes, you need to learn a lot on your way up, but don’t ever be afraid to let your CD know that you’re ambitious and that you’ve got your eyes on the top prize. Much, much more than likely, they’ll see a bit of themselves in you and enjoy helping you get to your own creative director title.
Your turn! What lessons have you learned from your best creative directors? Let us know in the comments below!