I saw a question on Quora the other day that got me thinking: In the age of content marketing, is copywriting dead?
The assumption behind this question is that in the age of corporate blogs, social media, etc., the ability to tell stories somehow takes a backseat to the ability to analyze data about the stories, plan stories and determine how to deliver those stories.
I am not sure the assumption here is correct, if the assumption is that these are actually new skills for people who write copy.
I think writers (good ones) have always had to take their audience and delivery model into account. They’ve always had to be good at planning their work and developing strategies to get the stories they are telling out to the people they want to reach.
Things are a little different now, but I’ve been doing marketing communications (including quite a lot of planning and execution – writing – of copy) for almost 20 years and if I did not have these skills, I would not have a job. And while there have definitely been changes, the ability to tell a good story, to get your work done on time, and to have it matter/motivate action in the audiences you want to reach will always be needed.
That is the core skill of a good copywriter. It’s art, not science – and it almost can’t be learned.
The rest – data analysis, project management, etc. – are skills that can be developed if one has a mind to. And they are worthwhile skills to learn since they can make a big difference in your ability to be employed. But that core writing ability, the ability to weave words into something that people will actually read, that makes them care enough to take action? That’s still an art.
As writers, we are lucky today that we have technology that allows us to learn so much more about what is happening with our work after we release it into the world, and to do a better job of planning based on what we learn. But the core skill of copywriters, IMHO, hasn’t changed as much as people think.