Hey everyone, it’s time again to play “Meet a Pen”!
Today we’re chatting with Betty Egan, who left her big agency life at Arnold Advertising for a home in the wilds of New Hampshire. Luckily for us, she’s game for the occasional long drive to visit clients in Greater Boston. So let’s get to our questions …
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A magazine journalist. I wanted to work for Vogue. I ended up working for Design News, a trade publication about the field of design engineering.
How did you get into copywriting?
The back door. I left magazine publishing and used the best leverage I had to get into advertising: my proofreading skills.
What’s your favorite type of writing project?
Headlines. They’re fun, creative and quick!
What do you wish clients knew about working with writers?
We work really hard and want our words to be appreciated as much as the pretty layouts that make them look good.
Why do you think most business writing is so bad?
This industry, like any industry, is full of hacks. And as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
What’s your best advice for writing great copy?
The same advice a wise copywriter once gave me: Read it out loud. And the advice Shakespeare gave all writers: Brevity is the soul of wit.
Does being a copywriter make you a sellout, or is that just what poets say because they’re jealous of how much money we make?
Yup, there’s no shame in making money. And there’s a lot of poetry in copywriting.
Any advice for writer’s block?
Do some research. Take a shower. Go for a walk.
What brand voices do you admire most and why?
Volkswagen: Cheeky, but smart and distinct. Field Notes: Their email copy is brilliant.
Can you name any famous copywriters?
Other than David Ogilvy? I’ve worked with many great copywriters, but I don’t know how famous they really are. A couple who come to mind: David Weist and David Register. Hmm, maybe I should change my name to David. And my gender to male.
Do you think it’s totally unfair that copywriters don’t get to sign their names?
Nah. I’d take a paycheck over a byline any day. And personally, I like the anonymity.
What’s on your desk?
A laptop, a Moleskine notebook, a black Pentel Sign Pen and a cup of coffee.
What do you wish there was a word for?
Sorry, coming up blank … A word for coming up blank?
What advice would you give someone who wanted to become a copywriter?
Be curious and relentless.
What are you good at besides writing?
Fashion design, interior decorating and cooking. I like being domestic.
What would surprise someone to learn about you?
I can’t whistle or snap my fingers.
What are you reading now?
I haven’t read a book in a long time, but Nora Ephron is my favorite author, and The Rough Guide to the Rolling Stones is on the top of the stack at my bedside.
What’s your favorite word?
Predict the future (answer this however you want).
Driverless cars, smart homes, better public transportation, pay equity, gender equity, cheaper (or free) education, a greener planet (I hope).
Is it wrong to sell store-bought pastries at a bake sale?
So. Very. Wrong.
What was your verbal SAT score?
What is the current bane of your existence? You’re not allowed to say this questionnaire.
Are you secretly working on your novel/screenplay?
No. No time.
What’s your favorite comfort food?
Is there a favorite English teacher lurking in your past?