Over the weekend I was reading Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing. He makes a number of really strong points that I’ll probably address later but the one that struck me as timely for today was the suggestion about how to hire a good marketing assistant. His suggestion was to pick someone who can write. While it seems fairly obvious that people who want to work in communications should be strong and comfortable writers, not all of them are. And once you get out of the communications applicant pool you’ll encounter even more people who claim an aversion to writing.
Being a strong and compelling writer makes you a good candidate for a number of positions and should just flat out be a requirement for any marketing communications position. If you can’t clearly articulate your message, don’t enjoy playing with words and find yourself compulsively editing copy wherever you go (a habit that makes my family nuts), don’t get a job in marketing.
I thought it was nuts when years ago a hiring manager asked me to write sample copy on her product line, something I had just been introduced to. I realized much later that she wasn’t measuring my comprehension of her products but my ability to pontificate on the fly regarding new information — a skill which has proved invaluable to me since.
So while you’re searching for a marketing or PR position today, practice your writing. Write letters to the editor, submit articles to your local newspaper or professional association newsletter or just blog. The practice will be well worth the investment.