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May 21, 2013
Your Creativity is Not Defined by the Medium You Work In
 
There’s a school of thought among some advertising professionals and clients that it takes a specific type of creative person to create great advertising for a specific medium; i.e., it takes a great print writer to write long copy or it takes a digital writer to write great digital or...
 
That’s pure crap.
 
DISCLAIMER: ALTHOUGH I AM TALKING ABOUT WRITERS, THIS APPLIES TO ART DIRECTORS AS WELL.
 
A good radio writer is going to be a good print writer or a good TV writer or heaven forbid a good digital writer.
 
A good radio writer is quite simply a good freaking writer.
 
A talented writer knows how to weave a story using words that not only catches a customers’ attention. It must also hold it while delivering a message.
 
Will the transition between media be quick and easy?
 
No, not all the time.
 
Each medium is different, and a creative has to gain an understanding of how the message lives in that medium, but it should not be impossible.
 
I can hear you sharpening the pitchforks and lighting the torches but hold up for a moment. Really think about what it is we do.
 
We create great ideas. We use our creative skills to address a client’s business problem or issue. We solve problems creatively.
 
That’s it. That is all we do.
 
If a creative can come up with a great idea that delivers the message in a way that speaks to people, that message should be strong enough to work across different media.
 
About right now, the Claude Hopkins zealots and David Ogilvy fanatics are losing their minds. They are screaming about selling and how if we aren’t selling we are not doing our jobs!
 
I get that.
 
But if they could, Ogilvy and Hopkins would look at how their messages have been twisted into crutches, and used as excuse for not creating the best creative work for the client and tell you, their ardent followers, to pull up. We do not have to beat people over the head with the sales proposition for advertising to sell.
 
There is more than one way to sell. People have changed. Isn’t it about time we consider looking differently at how we try to sell to them?
 
Let that marinate for a bit.
 
Which brings me back to my point; there is also more than one way to be creative. A writer that excels at writing print should have no problem writing copy for digital or broadcast and vice versa. I’m not saying it is easy. It isn’t.
 
I am saying creatives should be able to do it. The skills that allow us to excel in one medium should be transferrable to all the media we work in. The medium does not determine whether or not we are creative — our skills and experience do that. Our abilities should allow us to create messages that work as well on outdoor as it does in social media. A writer who has mastered TV and radio should be able to craft a message for a website.
 
I am not saying that the exact same message will work; it may not. However, I do believe that the same skills will work across media.
 
Somewhere out there, someone is grumbling, “Great ideas can come from anywhere. Why are you only talking to creatives?”
 
I’m talking to creatives because at the end of the day, no matter where the idea comes from, it is the creatives who are held responsible for bringing that great idea to life.
 
That’s our job.
 
Of course, we have to work within the restraints that each medium has, but transitioning between media should not be so difficult for us. This is all about the basics, having strong fundamental skills that you can build upon. How does one get these skills? Practice, practice, practice. And it doesn’t hurt to study what others are doing and have done.
 
This is a great time to be a creative; we have so many wonderful tools to play with, but we have got to learn to be proficient in the use of all of them. Advertising is evolving but the need for great creatives who can weave a story that not only stops but also holds the attention while delivering a message will always be the one constant.
 
Your creativity is not limited to a medium. You’re better than that.

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Derek Walker is the janitor, secretary and mailroom person for his tiny agency, brown and browner advertising, out of the big city of Columbia, S.C. He is on Twitter as @dereklwalker
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