In our latest post, Ball State alumna Jessica Husek discusses how her interest in writing led her to a career as a copywriter at Miller Brooks, an Indianapolis advertising firm. She notes that, in addition to particular advertising skills, copywriters need to have strong creative and critical writing abilities. Continue below to read about Jessica’s experience at Miller Brooks as well as the firm’s exciting internship program.
It might not be your first thought when you’re thinking about what you’ll do with a writing/English degree. But I’ve found advertising to be a constantly challenging and equally rewarding way to flex my writing muscle.
I’m a copywriter (fancy word for writer) at an ad agency in Indianapolis. It’s not exactly like what you might have seen on Mad Men. My boss doesn’t have a drink cart in her office. We don’t smoke a pack of Lucky Strikes in every brainstorm session. And it’s not the late ’60s. But other than those few minor details, it’s pretty close.
Advertising is an odd job. Half artistry, creativity, and free-spiritedness. Half results-driven, sales-focused, real business. And the key is making them seem less “half-and-half” and “more one-and-the-same:” create inspiring work that moves as many products as it does people. That’s what we are working toward every single day, and it’s quite the chase.
So, what do we do all day? First, we learn. It may seem as if all the brilliant ideas are discovered instantly (and conveniently right before the deadline)—and honestly, sometimes that does really happen—but most of the time we can only arrive at the right concept by immersing ourselves into the brand. We Google, read, pour through pictures, and talk to customers.
Then, we scribble. We toss out a lot of bad ideas on how to communicate that brand—and a few good ones. An idea can start with a phrase, a doodle, a picture we’ve seen somewhere, a song, or just seemingly divine inspiration. We keep going with the bad ideas until we have enough good ones. I often write about 100 headlines to get to 10 I really like.
We find our best ideas, polish them, and then we pitch. It’s the part you see on TV—a snazzy little presentation that makes you want to buy the [faucet, soda, or whatever product we're selling], and makes the client want to buy the work.
Our work comes in a lot of shapes and forms: logos, taglines, TV commercials, radio spots, websites, online ads, magazine and newspaper ads, brochures, posters, presentations, social media, trade show booths, billboards, and just about anything branded. By the time it reaches your eyes, it has been planned, written (that’s me), art directed, designed, approved, and placed very strategically in the place you encounter it.
When I started as a Freshman at Ball State, I knew I wanted to work in advertising. I also knew I wanted to write. At the time, I had no idea how well the two would fit together. My advertising major taught me all about target audiences, smart strategy, creative conceptualization, and media buys. And my creative writing minor taught me about character development, story arc, and voice. Put them together, and you have a skill set perfect for storytelling for a living.
What I love most about my job is that I get to think of things that move me, make me laugh, and inspire me every day. I get to make things up for a living. And I get to do it for a lot of different brands, taking on a lot of different voices. Oh, and I get to wear jeans to work.
And now to do a little advertising of my own:
The agency for which I work, Miller Brooks, is hiring Spring, Summer, and Fall semester writing interns. Go to http://www.millerbrooks.com to learn more about us and our clients.
Miller Brooks internships are fully credited and available during Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters. Internships are completed in 90-day cycles and paid at a rate of $250.00 per week. We are flexible with schedules, but do expect a minimum of 30 hours per week on the job.
To apply, email your résumé and either a PDF of or link to your portfolio of writing samples.
Uriaha Foust—Associate Creative Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mark Willis—Senior Copywriter (email@example.com)
Advertising examples are preferred, but any writing will do (short or long, fiction or non-fiction). Show us a variety of projects and a variety of voices.