Freelance writing, editing, and proofreading

I’m thankful that I’ve been able to obtain a part-time job at an ad/marketing agency where I can do some freelance editing and proofreading. I charge them $10 more than what I made at my last job right now, but in retrospect, I think I underestimated my value. However, I cut the company some slack because I haven’t been editing or proofreading in quite a while. I figure I’m a good deal considering my kick-butt skills at the rate that I’m charging. (Woo-hoo! Confidence!)

This leaves me with two free days to do some writing. I’ve mentioned in the past that I haven’t done any form of reporting since 2005, which scares me. In the past, I’ve had editors tell me what stories they think are important or relevant to the locals and I just went out, covered the story, wrote up my assignment, turned it in, then basked in the glow of seeing my name glistening in print. Now, it’s up to me to be up on what’s important and relevant to the community that I live in and decide what I think editors will want to publish. It’s a tricky game and I’m bound for rejection. Considering my history of rejection from my peers, I don’t know if I’m particularly apt for constant rejection from editors. I know I’m not supposed to take it personally but I’m Ms. Overly Sensitive. My recent experience with Joe (here and here) from the magazine I interviewed for has actually taught me a lot. It’s been an annoyance to endure but it’s been a valuable lesson. I’m learning not to take his treatment of me personally. Perhaps I read him all wrong and he’s not the jerk that I think he is. Regardless, he at least sent me a copy of the  issue my work was published in — wouldn’t you know — sans that elusive $75 check. I’m particularly angry with him, mainly because I feel like I got played for the fool. Part of me wants to pursue my writing career even more now to show him that he lost out by not hiring me. The other part of me knows that I’m so unmotivated to do anything that I won’t get anywhere with anything. Better to have low expectations and be pleasantly surprised than to have high expectations and be significantly disappointed.

Fair balance exampleI work for an ad/marketing agency that specializes in the health care industry. I’m learning a lot about ads now, especially something called a “fair balance statement.” This statement needs to be included on any ad in which the company makes a claim about its product, i.e. “The only product that can do this” or “The most effective product out of all other products in its class.” According to the Pharma Marketing Glossary:

“Fair balance refers to the presentation of accurate and fair assessment of the risks as well as the benefits of the drug.”

Celebrex’s 2-minute-plus long fair balance statement in their TV ads drives me insane.

There’s a lot I’m slowly taking in and trying to be receptive to as I work at this agency. I’m learning that these agencies (I work at a small one) have a client who wants to make their product look like this and here’s what the ad should say. The agency, at that point, takes what the client specifies and expounds on it to make it look attractive, interesting, and effective. Whether the ad is somewhat misleading is not the question — the point is to SELL the product.

And sell the products they have. I freelanced for this company — let’s call it XYZ — 2 years ago. Back then, they had a client, PharmaCo1, that made PharmaDrug1. The agency had just started about a year before so I passed on the opportunity to get in on the ground floor since I needed something stable with good benefits and a great salary for less working hours (35 as opposed to 40). Now, PharmaCo1 is still using XYZ to make ads for PharmaDrug1 since the ads have been effective, not only for the doctors but also to the patients (DTC). I am sure along the way that not everything in those ads have been truthful. But XYZ isn’t paid to be completely accurate in their ads; XYZ is paid to cater to PharmaCo1 and help it successfully sell PharmaDrug1.

As an editor/proofreader (and potential copywriter), I’m not just looking for misspellings, bad grammar, and terrible sentence structure, I’m also looking to see if the copy jives with the overall “message” of the ad:

  • What is this piece about?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Is the piece making sense overall?
  • Do the images and art properly convey what the piece is trying to say?
  • Do the words within the piece express the essence of the message PharmaCo1 is trying to get across?

I haven’t worked on any ads that have made me suspicious to the validity of the company’s claims, but then again, I haven’t been working there that long.

Fair balance example from lipitor.com

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3 Comments

  1. BPD in OKC said,

    April 16, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    I’ve always wanted to work for an advertising/marketing firm, but I’ve never even gotten to interview at one. They don’t seem impressed with my resume even though I’ve worked with the advertising and marketing aspects of newspapers for a long time. I’m a little jealous that you get to work for one. Good luck with the job!

  2. Prester John said,

    April 16, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    As a recovering substance abuser I have to be ever vigilant concerning my resentments. Nothing leads to relapse quicker. I’m not saying you resent Joe, or even that you shouldn’t. If it’s bothering you though, try this.
    Pray for Joe to have the things you want for yourself every day for two weeks. (Prosperity, love, health, shoes, whatever.) After two weeks, and probably before, you’ll notice Joe is no longer a sore spot for you. Usually one two week treatment will do it for a small thorn. Deeper hurts go into remission after two weeks, but they tend to come back and require further prayer for the offending party, at least in my experience.

  3. Marissa said,

    April 17, 2008 at 10:16 am

    BPD,
    Thanks! I’m surprised I’m here myself since I don’t consider myself the ad/marketing type. However, I’m jealous that you’ve worked in the newspaper industry. 🙂


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