- Be smart. When talking with you engages our brains, you get better copy. We stay amused, which helps us stay alert. And we generally write better when awake.
- Feed us information. Yes, many of us can pull copy out of thin air. We do it regularly. We prefer not to. Remember the old computer line: GIGO.
- Challenge us. Do not accept good when you know we can do great.
- Never assume we know what we're talking about. People tend to trust good writers. We're writers. We're not the ever-popular Subject Matter Experts. Check our facts. And for God's sake, if there are numbers involved, check the math.
- Start feedback with praise. We're like 2-year-olds. Except, "Good job!" won't cut it. We need more than that. Barb used to walk into my office, carrying my copy, and say, "Jan, this is brilliant! I laughed so hard I cried. It's totally off strategy and we can't use it, but it's brilliant! Now, let's talk about ..."
- Understand our priorities. This is especially important if you're trying to build a creative team. My priorities? My family comes first. My friends are family. And I don't work on Saturdays. When you understand what makes a writer tick, and respect that, we will go the extra mile for you. Always.
- Back us up. I was once in an agency meeting -- different agency, not Blades -- where I was so angry with an account person, all I could do was scrawl an obscenity over and over again on a piece of paper. I couldn't speak. The art director, Pat Stout, took over my portion of the meeting and presented my copy along with her design. I will write anything for Pat. (This is not a Barb example, but it could be. Barb always has my back.)
- Bonus tip: Let us go. When I decided to open my own company in 2002, Barb didn't try to keep me at the agency, even though she and I were a great team. Her encouragement helped make my entrepreneurial launch a success and her support continues to be a comforting mainstay. No wonder I love her, even if she is tall, blonde and gorgeous.
Finally, a tip for short, brunette* writers who have to deal with tall, blonde, gorgeous bosses: Never, never, never stand next to them.
*Fine. We all know this isn't my true hair color anymore. No need to rub it in.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Seven Tips for Working with a Writer
My former Blades & Associates' boss, Barb Pruitt, knows how to get the best work out of a writer -- even if that writer is something of a creative diva. (Hmmm. Yes. Me.) Today, in honor of Barb's birthday, seven tips to help you wrangle writers: