It’s fascinating to me how professionals navigate their career paths, the twists and turns that lead them to a certain point from a starting place that might have something to do with their childhood hobbies. Greteman Group Senior Writer and Editor Josh Wood began his career in Journalism because of his love of story-telling and wordsmithing. So how did he get to where he is today? Josh was gracious enough to give me a few minutes of his time to spill the tea:
When in your life did you discover your passion for writing? What did you think you would end up doing with it?
Reading has been a huge passion of mine since I was a kid. Books, magazines, newspapers – I would devour everything. Once I found a new author I enjoyed, I would read their entire work. Or if I discovered a new subject matter, I’d try to find out as much about the history of it. For example, when I got into baseball at 8, I spent a lot of time at the library reading about everything from the 19th century to today’s game. Why was Willie Mays important? Or Lou Gehrig? I’d try to find out.
Then, as a kid, I’d spend a lot of time writing about what I’d learned. Some of it was in school, but a lot of time it was just something I enjoyed doing for my own education. In conveying the information, I wanted others to feel as excited about the subjects as I would be. Since I was such a history nerd, I thought I might apply that to teaching or in government, writing policies or position papers.
Before your time with Greteman Group you were a journalist. What was your favorite thing about that part of your career?
I loved the ever-changing aspect of what a “typical day” was. I started in sports, where every game’s outcome was unknowable and exciting for one reason or another. When I moved over to the traditional News side of the newspaper, each day was even more unpredictable. Sometimes the story of the day might be a big fire, or a business deal or even a local team winning a championship. As much as you planned for what might happen, it wasn’t set in stone.
As a writer, I enjoyed talking to people and telling their stories. As an editor, I found I really liked taking a lot of information and distilling it to the key points to make it more understandable. Why was this story important and what did the reader need to know about this subject? I treasured that process.
What was it like switching from a career in journalism to a career at a marketing agency? What prompted you to change your career path?
I was asked by a friend to consider marketing and as much as I enjoyed journalism, it was a good time to change careers and develop new skills. I discovered that there were a lot of similarities between the jobs: telling people’s stories, sharing information about ideas or products to new audiences, and of course, taking difficult concepts and putting them into layperson’s terms.
One aspect that remains completely the same for me is the desire to learn as much about a subject as possible. Working with new clients allows me to do the research I enjoy, and to find out what makes their brands tick, what makes their services unique and why their technology is truly impressive.
I’m also constantly in awe of my co-workers. There is so much creativity and dedication within our agency. Our team collaborates to find solutions and comes up with a direction that serves the client, first and foremost. I’m always proud of the work we produce.
What has been the most challenging part in your position as a copywriter, and how has that propelled you to be an even better writer?
I’ve joked before that the biggest difference between journalism and marketing is that now I use adjectives. Writing compelling descriptions and action-oriented words that make the audience want to try it. Sometimes writing more creatively is more challenging than writing in an unbiased, straightforward manner. But just because you have the freedom to write more verbosely doesn’t mean you should. Clear, concise copy is almost always more effective. One challenge? Getting the client to agree that less is more.
For individuals who are considering a career in copywriting, what advice would you like to share?
Embrace feedback and appreciate different perspectives. Everyone needs an editor. You might think your words have told the story, but until someone else reads them, you can’t know for sure. Take their input to heart and see how the final product can be improved.
When you’ve hit the mark, it’s impactful. There’s nothing quite like seeing your words on an ad campaign, in an article, or a website. No matter what the format, there will always be a need for good communication skills and writing well. Enjoy the process and learn from each project.