What’s in a title?

When people ask me what I do for a living I usually say rather obliquely “Communications” and immediately think, “I hope they don’t think I’m a telephone engineer!” But why do we hang so much on a title?

I exchanged my heady days of transaction and crisis communications for marriage and babies over a decade ago. Perhaps it is that I still hanker for the days (and nights) of playing piggy in the middle to the client, the bankers and the lawyers; or scanning press cuts bleary-eyed at stupid o’clock just to make sure the other side hasn’t got the upper hand in the latest corporate “crisis” to hit my desk. “Hanker,” I hear you ask, “Why would anyone hanker after that?”

So as I turn my hand to copywriting and editing, I still talk of communications and never correct anyone when they introduce me as a writer. Far better a writer than a copywriter. But why?

My colleague Natalie might say it’s because we don’t have any original ideas; or we’re simply putting other people’s expertise down on paper. But surely it is as worthy a skill to be able to draw out and sift through the wealth of information crammed into an expert’s head – and then pass these expertise on in a manner accessible to those of us not prepared to devote our entire lives to the subject?

Imagine if you will, a company that has achieved success, but has yet to establish its brand identity – a subject close to Natalie’s heart. Now gather the top brass from that company in a room and ask them what factors they would put their success down to. Twenty managers, you would probably get 20 answers. Now go away and write a corporate brochure telling the world (yes that’s right, the world) why they should work with this company. Impossible you say? No, that is the job of a copywriter. OK, not every copywriter is the next J K Rowling or E L James. But is the talent behind the title copywriter any less than that behind writer; is the title telecoms engineer any less worthy than communications advisor? Talent and excelling at what you do is what counts.

Lilias Martin 8/10/2012

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