Opinions - Fancy a fight? Join LinkedIn


by Ashley Morrison


*But not just any sort of fight. LinkedIn doesn't provide a sort of Brad Pitt / Edward Norton-inspired forum or portal where the first rule about Online Fight Club is that you don't talk about Online Fight Club. (Sorry if you haven't seen the film, in which case you won't find that funny or arguably even if you have seen the film...)
One thing you can be certain of is that when a bunch of copywriters have all got together in an online group or forum and some of whom have no social skills and are only comfortable being vocal in writing (hm) someone is going to start a verbal fight.


I don't usually have time to read the LinkedIn discussions which arrive daily in my inbox. But a while ago, one caught my eye. It did so because it was about copywriting and it was starting to get offensive.

I've met a lot of copywriters and, by and large and like a lot of creatives they're lovely. I'm not just saying that; they really are. I'm aware that I'm generalising but, as a rule, they usually aren't socially overbearing, they tend not to be cocky, and, more often than not, they're highly intelligent.

If you think about it, that's to be expected; the job of a copywriter is essentially to make other people (or companies or products) sound good by the clever use of words. Words that inspire; words that cajole; words that sell.

Freelancers more than anyone are very used to being told what to do even if they don't agree. So in a professional environment, even if they have an ego, they aren't often allowed to show it. That's not exclusive to copywriters, of course, but I know more freelance copywriters than any other sort of freelancer, so that's my frame of reference for today's blog.

So what's my point? Well, linking all this back to Copywriting Fight Club, I recently came across a usual case on LinkedIn: a copywriter who's clearly spoiling for a fight.

And very interestingly, it's the same guy I blogged about last week. In case you missed it, it's the guy who claims to be one of the best proofreaders (and copywriters, apparently) in Los Angeles. Yep, THAT guy. Mr Smug-U-Like; Mr Comma-Deficit; Mr I-Use-Adjectives-Where-I-Should-Have-Used-An-Adverb...

I'm not picking on him for the sake of it, you understand. No, no, no, not at all. It's just that he has managed to wind up an entire community and is sticking stubbornly to his guns.

Even though he's wrong.

What did he say to cause such consternation? Well, he said that if you don't write for an advertising agency, you're a writer, NOT a copywriter. In response to people trying to put him straight, he states quite dogmatically that: "If you've never worked for an ad agency, you have no idea what a copywriter does. It's not about writing sales materials, it's about doing concepts! We don't write sales materials, we do concepts for ads, brochures, web, radio/TV commercials."

Quite where he gets his information from isn't clear. He supplied absolutely no source for his argument or point of view, other than his own (admittedly quite impressive) list of clients and experience.

Personally, I have never worked for an ad agency, but I still definitely call myself a copywriter. And if I'm not, what exactly am I getting paid for? Over the years, I've written online and offline copy for multinational corporations, PR agencies, broadcasters, banks (sorry), clothing manufacturers and an online pharmacy, to name but a few. The copy I've written has included web content, marketing communications, direct mailings, blog posts, brochures, catalogues, handbooks, advertising material... The list goes on and on. But I've never worked for an ad agency so allegedly I am not a copywriter, according to Mr LA Proofy-Copy. So are all the marketing and PR directors who hire me therefore hiring the wrong person?

Needless to say, a whole gang of indignant copywriters who work in marketing and communications and a variety of other fields contradicted him to verbal death. On this one topic, which spanned several months, there were 359 comments. I've read as many as them as I could bring myself to read with eyebrows raised for most of that time. My favourite put-down, if one can call it that (from a British copywriter, as it happens), was: "Copywriters write copy. If only there was some sort of clue in the job title..." Hee-hee!

Mr LA Proofy-Copy found literally no support from anyone. He chastised people for their poor grammar or typos (while making many himself within the very same chastisement) and what ultimately happened was that a whole load of other totally irrelevant and slightly offensive arguments were offered up.

Eventually, it descended into little more than name calling. Even military service was brought up, for a reason I could not fathom or find. Mr LA Proofy-Copy, after writing in block capitals, "DID YOU SERVE YOUR COUNTRY?" went on to state that he "disagreed with the conscientious objector, just an excuse to avoid the military, a bunch of wusses." Nice. And irrelevant. Give me Benjamin Britten over George Dubya any day of the week.

Whilst I found all this mildly entertaining, it did make me consider two things:

1. Is this what LinkedIn discussion forums should be about? And if not, why didn't the moderator do anything about it? (I suspect he/she was enjoying the fight too much.)

2. Is it professionally dangerous to enter into one of these discussions, given that they're public, and given that I rely on LinkedIn for freelance job opportunities? (That's partly why I didn't wade in myself.)

I'd be interested to know if anyone else has come across this sort of job fascism. If so, do share. Oh, I've just thought of an example. Anyone seen the film Contagion?

(Jude Law): I'm a writer.
(Elliott Gould): Blogging is not writing. It's just graffiti with punctuation.

Ashley Morrison is a copywriter, blogger and editor.

Twitter: @Ashley_Morrison


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