show my portfolio and have my ideas pilfered?

this question is asked with trepidation by copywriters, and by anyone who shares creative work: scriptwriters, authors pitching books, inventors, app developers, fashion and graphic designers. it’s a question of trust, and the answer is obvious. you must share your ideas or they’ll gather dust, and someone else will think of them eventually anyway — or something very close that will arouse your suspicion.

there are precautions you can take. you can password-protect your online portfolio (you need an online portfolio) or you can send a pdf of your work, but the best defense is to forge a good working relationship with anyone who wants to view your portfolio. the idea being that the real thing (you, hired) is so much more prolific and reliable than a one-off cheap theft, even if you’re simply kept in mind for a later hire.

also, your attitude should be “help yourself — there are 50,000 more where that one came from” because if you’re a working copywriter, then you’re in the business of generating endless ideas. you’re an idea fountain, tapped into an eternal flame of creativity.

if someone does steal your idea, feel sorry for that pathetic person with such a limited imagination. it’s better to have an endless bounty than to be the empty shell of a person who grubs around for someone else’s ideas.  but keep in mind that people really do come up with eerily similar ideas – i’ve seen it happen often in classes.

i once sent a script to a friend at Paramount, and a year later a movie that was clearly my script was released with a virtually identical plot, and the same beginning and ending. flabbergasted, i researched the screenwriter and discovered that “my movie” was actually based on his own book, which was conveniently published well before i had ever written the script. so sometimes ideas are just in the air.

don’t worry about someone purloining your unique concepts, worry more about presenting them before someone else does.

have you ever had someone lift your idea? if so, what did you do about it?

by
kim taylor

for more information on our membership and events, visit The Copy Lab.

2 thoughts on “show my portfolio and have my ideas pilfered?

  1. I think your advice about not worrying, there are plenty more ideas out there, is good. There are at least two dedicated sites out there showing ads from major agencies that have then been repeated a few years later. Sometimes it’ll be a rip-off, but mostly it’s just a question of great minds think alike. You just have to accept it happens sometimes and move on.

  2. This is very true and I am amazed at how many creative people out there impoverish themselves by developing a hoarding mentality towards their ideas. Credit fairly goes to the execution, not the idea. Like JC Biver says “Knowledge is everywhere. You just have to read a book and then you know. But it’s not that you read a book that you know how to implement it.” It is not only a compliment to have your ideas stolen (because then you know you’re on the right track) but eventually what goes around will come around and people will doubtlessly recognise your style and execution, no matter who lays claim to it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s