A designer is a copywriter’s partner in creative work. When that relationship is good, the work is golden. But when that relationship is not as good, the work can suffer and job satisfaction plummets. Today, let’s talk about what to do when that relationship is strained. Read on…
Today’s question comes from Elyse H., who asks, “There’s a new designer at work that I’ve had a few projects with, and things just aren’t going well. He makes changes without telling me, and presents work without me there. It’s making me crazy. What can I do?”
The first thing to know is that most designers who do things like this—leaving you out of meetings, changing your copy, etc.—aren’t out to get you.
They just don’t know that it’s a problem.
When you’re experiencing these kinds of problems, the first thing is to simply and clearly address them. Don’t say things like, “Oh, I’d kind of like to have been in that meeting…”; say, “Since this is a project we’ve both worked on, I’d like to be included in every meeting. Please be sure to invite me—or plan the meeting with me—next time.”
Along those same lines, you also need to make it clear that it’s not okay that the designer is changing your copy. You need to acknowledge that sometimes copy needs to change, but that you should be the one to do it.
Saying something like, “I know that, like the design, the copy sometimes needs to change and sometimes that has to happen quickly, but let me know, and I’ll be right at your desk to do it. Just like I wouldn’t change your design for you, don’t change my copy for me.”
And, of course, if that still doesn’t make it clear, you can explain that “I need to be able to answer for every single word and every single choice in the copy. If you change the copy, I can’t do that, and it reflects poorly on me, our work, and our collaboration.”
If you’re still having problems after having been as clear, respectful, and straightforward is possible, it’s time to bring your Creative Director into the mix.
You’re not “tattling” on your designer; you’re just enlisting your Creative Director to help you communicate the problem and come up with a solution. If there’s anyone who knows how important good collaboration between a designer and a copywriter is, it’s a Creative Director.
But what if the problem is with a client’s designer, and there is no Creative Director? If you absolutely can’t resolve things with the designer, you need to very carefully and very tactfully explain the problem to your client.
If your client is attached to their designer, you don’t want to make it seem like you’re causing the problem. Just gently explain what’s happening and why it’s a problem.
If your client understands, he or she will have enough clout to make a difference when they step in. If your client doesn’t understand and can’t or won’t step in…well, that’s a scenario in which you need to think very carefully about whether you want to work with this client and designer again.
Your turn! Have you ever had problems with a design partner? What happened? And how did you resolve it? (Or not…) Let us know in the comments below!