Sign your work & clean up after yourself.
I run a creative writing shop. Some days are better than others. Some days are worse. Yesterday, was most certainly the latter.
I was closing up shop for the day, when I received a note from the CEO of a company I had just written a 3,000-word piece for.
It had just been published and apparently, an off-the-cuff remark I had made in the article had set the Twitter world on fire.
It was a bit ignorant.
I said something along the lines of…
It doesn’t take as much skill to write a comic book as it does a 300,000-word novel.
While I don’t want to name names nor point you to the place where you can gawk at the aftermath of the Twitter storm, what I can tell you is this…
Twitter has a massive, very loyal, comic book community that you should avoid pissing off at all costs.
Within fifteen minutes of the article going live, one of the more prominent names in the comic book community had taken a screenshot of the article, and had tweeted it along with some choice words — it garnered 1,200 likes and 300 retweets in a matter of minutes.
The community was outraged.
So outraged, they were threatening not to do business with the brand I had written the article for.
While the CEO was by no means frantic, he was concerned and in his note, he asked me to make some immediate revisions to the article.
But, I took it a step further.
I created a Twitter and made a public apology to the community I had offended.
Why I sign my work.
A good while back, I wrote an article titled I sold my soul ghostwriting, where I share how after making $10,000 ghostwriting articles for a well-known founder in Silicon Valley, I decided it wasn’t my cup of tea.
I gave a handful of reasons why I walked away from ghostwriting and the large sum of money I was getting paid.
But, the straw that broke the camel’s back was a top twenty-five article of all time on Medium I had written, that accumulated well over 150,000 applause, millions of views and hundreds of comments praising my client for his original thought, brilliant thinking and poetic way with words.
My name, obviously, was nowhere on it.
After this, I decided I was signing my name to everything I wrote.
Today, even when I am working with a client as a behind-the-scenes marketer and writer, it is still agreed beforehand that I can talk about the work I do publicly to my 4,500 person email list and that I take responsibility for the successes and failures that come with the work I produce.
While this agreement is grand in theory and it’s a hell of a lot of fun to boast about your big wins… it’s an entirely different story when you have to fess up because you’ve fucked up.
Yesterday, when the CEO I was working with asked me to revise the article I had written, I was faced with a choice…
I could revise it from afar and stay out of the war zone on Twitter. Or, I could be a man of my word and publicly apologize to the thousands that were pissed off.
I quickly threw together a Twitter account and tweeted the following…
“I’m so sorry. I wrote the article & take full responsibility. It was very lazy writing & I’m disappointed in myself. Comic books require just as much skill & creativity as any other creative endeavor. Please don’t be upset with (so-and-so), the article does not reflect their views.”
While there were certainly a few people still upset, the apology removed the focus off of my client and refocused it on me.
Since my apology was genuine, it was accepted and we were able to turn what could have been a nasty shit storm into an opportunity to build a closer relationship with our customers.
Clean up after yourself.
Advertising gets a bad rap and rightfully so.
There are a lot of sleazeballs in the industry trying to make a quick dollar.
So, I think it is our responsibility to take an authentic and honest approach to the craft.
If you’ve read my writing before, you’re very aware that I am a huge fan of David Ogilvy.
One thing that the godfather of advertising always did was sign his advertisements.
He believed it was his responsibility to take ownership of the ads he was writing — which meant taking ownership for both his agency’s successes and failures.
I’ve adopted this same practice at Honey Copy. I charge a lot more than most marketers and copywriters, but that’s because brands aren’t getting a freelancer, they’re getting a partner.
Someone that’s willing to own both the good and the bad.
Yesterday was bad.
But, I cleaned up after myself.
And, when you sign your name to your work, sometimes you have to be prepared to grab the mop and broom.
By Cole Schafer.
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