Dear Minnesota State University Moorhead Mass Communications Professors:

Please refrain from blacklisting me. You taught me admirably and prepared me for my quest into this treacherous industry. Though I proudly rave about your wisdom and methods, I must recant on an edict you so feverishly drove into me.

Print copy is dead. Make your peace and move on.

Jason Jacobson

Since my freshman year of college I aspired to be a copywriter. Snazzy headlines, jingles and creative concepts led me down this path. In my schooling, image and headline copy was taboo to say the least. I realize my instructors wanted me to produce work worthy enough to land in my portfolio. Like the naive drone I was, I bumbled through all the tricks of good print copy; headline, body, through line and call to action.

What made for a good book 10 years ago now makes for a great portfolio for applicants frozen in fear of Y2K.

Print copy died with our attention spans. Print success requires a robust headline that sets off an image in order to create a compelling overall concept. Body copy no longer serves a function as it gets overlooked by a reader thumbing through ads. Years ago, a print ad consisted of a rewarding headline followed by supporting content. Today, print requires headlines and a simple line or two of copy to perform what a paragraph did.

With death comes new life.

Don’t let designers fool you. Copy still runs the show. Thanks to the Internet, the need for quality copywriting is more important than ever. Understanding and unlocking SEO (Search Engine Optimization) proves this. Matching compelling and informative copy with keywords requires a well-oiled pen and sales-driven mind.

The Internet opened the door for limitless and informative prose. Moving into the future with applications like Twitter, the need for potent headlines under 140 characters requires effective writing.

Radio and TV have lost touch with some users because copy gets axed for high-production. Copy is the conversation with your customer. You don’t have to say much, but you need something worth saying.

Recent graduates, here’s how to make a powerful writing portfolio without a lot of copy.

1. Concepts -As a creative, your input is equally as important as a designers. This is an idea business. Show you can think.

2. Headlines – Now more than ever, headlines have to carry the weight. Supporting copy is bronze-age technology. Forge steel headlines reinforced with concrete tags and a call to action.

3. Do more than print – Before the web, portfolios needed to consist of print or outdoor in order to show effective thinking. Why not have a page or two of Twitter posts, Google Ads or Facebook Ads? This shows you are ahead of the game and can be put to use now.

4. Blog – Yes blogging means writing several words, but don’t put blogs into your portfolio. Rather, blog somewhere else. If you have an online portfolio, and most people do, blog on it. This shows a dedication to the craft and allows the Creative Director a chance to get to know your style and a bit about your personality.

5. Minimize the art – In a time when writing needs to do more with less, a headline that can survive with minimal imagery shows the ability to deliver a message without the crutch of design. Many writers fear they will some day lose out over designers that can create sufficient headlines. Make a better headline. Stay ahead of the game. You can out write a designer, can’t you?

Jody, Bill, Anita and Mark; thank you for giving me the tools to be successful, the knowledge to make an impact and the liberty to defy rules in order to grow.

Writers, show me whatcha got. Email samples to or comment on what you think about advertising writing in general.