tips for surviving meeting overload

we’ve all been at the meeting that feels interminable. the person in charge is shuffling through papers, or speaking in a monotonous tone, or there’s no end in sight or agenda. or there’s an agenda, but people meander blithely off topic and take merciless tangents. you dream of being able to do something more constructive — like your work.

here are some tips for reclaiming your sanity, and expanding work time:

  1. ask your boss if someone at the meeting can fill you in later, because you’re on a creative roll and don’t want to stop working. extra points for being so inspired.
  2. if the meeting is mandatory, and you suspect no one would buy your “on a creative roll” excuse anyway, then jot down work ideas as you’re listening. just as some people take better notes when simultaneously doodling, you may find paying attention easier when you’re able to simultaneously jot down an idea. be sure to participate in the meeting though, so it doesn’t seem like you’re working on your novel.
  3. honesty is truly the best policy – bosses need and appreciate feedback. if you can’t manage to slip in some work at the meeting, then be frank with your boss and say you need a better balance of work vs. meeting time for your projects. your boss should recognize the magnificence of this request. you should be instantly knighted.
  4. if you have a boss who doesn’t appreciate your quest to work more beyond meetings, and you’re expected to fully participate in lots of meetings by talking and strategizing, then you may have to concede that your job is to be in meetings – at least for the most part.
  5. if you have to work overtime in order to meet deadlines, then you’ve reached that proverbial fork in the road where you must ask yourself if it’s worth it. Ideally the answer will be yes. and that’s how you deal with it. if the answer is no, then join The Copy Lab, network with people from other agencies and recruiters, and find a better job with a more satisfying meetings-to-work-time ratio.

how do you deal with meeting overload? send advice!

by kim taylor

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


know what sticks in my _____?

when two parties communicate well with one another they tend to finish each other’s sentences.

the present AXA Financial and La Quinta Inns & Suites campaigns ignore this truth to their folly.

both creative concepts rest on everyday idioms even the most moronic Morning Joe viewer would know.

for AXA, it’s the “800 lb __________ __ ___ ____,” a not-too-subtle nag to stop putting off retirement planning.

(AXA Equitable’s 800lb gorilla joy ride commercial)

two of the good-looking La Quinta ad series feature well-rested road warriors getting  “a leg __ __ ___ ____________” and having  their “ducks __ _  ___” for a client meeting.

(La Quinta leg commerical)   (La Quinta row commerical)

even accepting pt barnum’s “nobody ever went  broke _______(enough already – ed.),” i’m missing something here.

why would you state the obvious and rob your audience of the satisfaction to be had from paying off these sight gags.

who chose to mute those playing along at home? i would like to think it was the client, not the copywriter.

in these days of fragmented media, we keep hearing how ‘engagement’ is the end all and be all.

nothing to it. take your cue from Wheel of Fortune. let your audiences interact with your message.

grant them the wits to complete your thought, finish your…

jim cronin

jim cronin is president of BCA Marketing Communications in rye brook, ny

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

what kind of person becomes a copywriter?

i’ve had a few people ask me if they’re suited for copywriting.

copywriters come in all flavors and sizes, with backgrounds that include playwriting, scriptwriting, journalism, PR writing, catalog writing, sketch comedy, linguistics, fiction writing, editing, marketing, and account management.

do you love words? are you interested in cultural nuances, or psychology, comedy, food, drink, parenthood, childhood, pets, music, fashion, sports, or the arts? if you do crossword puzzles, or know latin, or love film and fiction, or if you’re a polyglot with a gimlet eye for the persuasive, you can be a copywriter.

if you relish slang and love to communicate, you can be a copywriter.

if you don’t mind rewriting and polishing, then reworking, then starting over, then reworking again, you can be a copywriter.

If you can take negative feedback with grace and a somewhat philosophical attitude, if you can sit through long and tedious meetings, and if you can work well both on your own and in teams, you can be a copywriter.

if you get excited by creative possibilities, if ideas spew forth and unfurl like dazzling fireworks, and if the mere thought of being a copywriter excites you, then welcome to The Copy Lab: you are already a copywriter at heart.

if you are a copywriter, how did you know that you wanted to write? what’s your writing background for bridging into advertising?

kim taylor

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

6 reasons not to miss this!

Creatives: The Copy Lab has R/GA’s award-winning copywriter Jenna Livingston on deck to give the low-down on crafting amazing alternative and experiential concepts (plus R/GA creative recruiters will be there!) oct. 24, 7-9:30 @ flatiron lounge. for info & to sign up:

developing your necessary thick skin as a copywriter

every one of us is vulnerable to criticism, whether it’s when presenting a creative idea for an ad campaign, acting in a play or improv skit, unveiling a painting, sporting a new look, or even dancing at a friend’s wedding — in other words, while living. So we all should be prepared for those who will critique.

just as you may balk, celebrate or remain neutral over Taken 2 being a box office smash, or turn your nose up at cold cherry soup, each person has a set of likes and dislikes that stem from uniquely personal experiences, encompassing family, culture, personality and education. so if someone doesn’t like your idea, don’t take it personally — it’s possible that they don’t have the same frame of reference you do. Or more likely, maybe the idea really does need to be reworked.

you’ll know you’re a pro when you no longer worry about negative criticism, because accepting it with equanimity is part of the being-a-copywriter deal. you’re paid to come up with tons of ideas that will be rejected, and a few that will be accepted too. you’ll come to view criticism as useful and constructive, compelling you to create your best work. or perhaps you’ll want to bang your head against the wall, mid-critique.

the thicker your skin, the more of a rhino you’ll be. and we all know rhinos sallie forth with horn lowered, ready to take on anything. the true king of the jungle.

be honest. have you developed a thick skin? when was the last time you successfully managed to keep your cool in a touchy situation?

kim taylor

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

ten challenges of a creative career

when it comes to the world of advertising, there is so much to be grateful for: Blendtec’s: “Will it Blend?,” Volkswagen’s The Force, and, of course, the Old Spice Guy. but the industry has its issues just like any other. so while many were enjoying the mingling and merriment of The Copy Lab’s launch party last week, i ventured into the crowd to get the inside scoop on what ails the average creative.

yes, call me “debbie downer,” but after surveying guests of all ages and experience levels for the majority of the evening, i was very pleased with a roundup of results that i believe honestly reflect a broad spectrum of areas in which many struggle. some had to think long and hard, while others jumped right in, venting fervently about problems they were currently facing. maybe you can also identify with these ten issues:

  1. developing a thick skin and a good sense of humor to combat negativity and criticism
  2. spending more time in meetings than you have to actually get work done
  3. getting enough work as a freelancer to support yourself in such a competitive industry
  4. trying to maintain your own voice and sense of style
  5. having your work “revised” by clients or CDs to the point where you don’t even recognize it anymore
  6. dealing successfully with the creative egos of coworkers in order to produce great work
  7. there’s less time to do great work because clients are not paying as much as they used to but still want great work even more quickly
  8. determining what to put in your book so it actually reflects your style and not just work clients force you to do
  9. trying to keep up with innovations in portfolio appearance (i.e. digital vs. keeping a physical book)
  10. women can be very catty and competitive with other women, making it difficult to find support, encouragement and guidance when trying to make career moves

do you see anything missing that should be added to this list? we’d love your feedback. stay tuned for future posts full of tips to help you overcome these challenges, which will hopefully lead to improved work, a better environment and an overall happier career.

kendria smith

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

what makes us laugh? let us count the ways

advertising that makes us smile or better yet, makes us guffaw, is the epitome of engaging. you know when something’s funny, and you know when it’s not, yet it’s not always easy to create humor on demand.

here are a few strategies for when you’re at your wit’s end and need inspiration:

  1. contrasts: betty white on a football field, a toy poodle in a muscled man’s arms, a little girl fixing a muffler, and a male model dating a female rocket scientist all provide a frisson of delightful contrasts.
  2. the unexpected: play against expected outcomes, reactions, and situations by introducing the unexpected. suddenly the Old Spice guy is on a horse, then he’s in a tub, then he’s in a meadow, then he’s antiquing – the unexpected is an unpredictable, wild ride.
  3. the absurd: “this is not an apple.” people appreciate the absurd, especially the french.
  4. slapstick: we hate to admit it, but we do laugh at those gifs where people are falling off of trampolines, then are immediately humped by a nearby dog.
  5. wit: if you can emulate dorothy parker with her bon mots and bone-dry wit, you’ll be golden (with raisins).
  6. puns: some copywriters view them as a too-easy route, others savor them like rubies. since humor is so subjective, if a pun presents itself as perfectly reasonable and entertaining, then go for it.
  7. the bold: something over-the-top and raging out of control is often funny because it’s so out of the norm.
  8. the truth: something that reveals how awkward or vulnerable we feel bonds us together as makes us laugh, sometimes nervously.
  9. the exaggeration: taking what people already believe or know, and amplifying it “clint eastwood addresses twelve empty chairs,” “mitt romney purchases the state of ohio,” “president obama requests triple espresso for debate #2”

what else makes you laugh? send us your favorites.

kim taylor

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