Marketing Needs English Majors – Writing for Marketing


Marketing Needs English Majors – Writing for Marketing

If you’re anything like me, you love writing. In fact, you need to. Writing offers you insight into the inner world of your mind—chaotic thoughts and all. Allowing you to see through the emotional storm, writing provides a foundation where we can begin to organize and understand that internal struggle we all face. Acting as a tether, writing gives us the chance to explore as deeply as we care to delve—or fear to.

And honestly, the act of writing has the potential to make us better people.

That pretty much sums it up—I don’t even have a choice in the matter. I need to write. I’m not writing myself into fame or fortune. I’m not writing to be the next Hemingway, Shakespeare or Gaiman. I’m writing because if I don’t, I begin to unravel.

Words alone though, well they don’t put clothes on your back, food on your table or money in your pocket. Right? Writing is great for fun, but has little value when money is the bottom line. That’s pretty much what I was led to, encouraged to, and told to believe.

For millennia, the classical idea of education meant—before anything else—the ability to read and write. It meant studying literature, philosophy and examining the human psyche. Even math and science hinge upon the foundation of reading and writing.

Since when did writing and studying literature fall so low on the scale of valuable skills? I suspect it has something to do with the rise of TV, fast money and the current perception that college = party.

While beautiful and wonderful and paramount to building better people—which in turn builds better societies and civilizations—writing these days has somehow fallen low on the scale of value in today’s world. The value of writing and those who pursue it bears the brunt of scorn, resentment and (from a wordsmith’s perspective) rather uninspired jokes.

An all too common scenario at the university:

“What’s your major?”


“Oh, so you’re studying joblessness, huh?”

“… mmm… ha.”

English major graduates struggle with this all too common misconception held and perpetuated by the last few generations. These jokes from the Baby Boomer and Gen X predecessors acted as a chasm in my mind, yawning wide and far.

Turns out that these beliefs toward English and writing not having value beyond the university were not just inaccurate—they were just plain wrong.

In today’s high-tech world of mobility, connectivity and lightning fast big-data exchange, we are literally surrounded by text. The printed word still dominates our communication, our conceptualization and how we think. Internet and magazine ads, billboards, commercial scripts, press releases, advertising emails—and that’s just scratching the surface here—all require writers. Not just anyone can do these things because it’s not predicated on following a simple format alone.

Writing for Marketing

Writing for marketing and PR requires curiosity (for research), discipline and most of all, creativity. Companies have encountered far too many candidates with the “required” MBA that can’t write coherently beyond a pre-designated template. Technology allows anyone to write a technically accurate media release. But it takes an English major to connect all of the dots—creative, accurate and comprehensive advertising doesn’t happen by accident.

At one point, the pendulum swung too far on the acquisition of certifications and titles, and for a time, business viewed that as enough. But the pendulum has already begun to swing backward; what needs to happen is that a more balanced approach to education should be emphasized by what a business is looking for.

It’s absolutely important for a qualified candidate to have the right skills and educational background. Is the marketing major the most qualified for the writing position at an agency? Does her degree determine her qualification or does the quality of her education and the skills she learned while at the university get her in the door?

I was once told by a veteran PR guru that she could teach anyone PR. What she couldn’t do was teach someone how to write. More than ever before, industries such as marketing, PR and businesses of all types are looking to those candidates with an English major. English graduates are seen as a much needed and integral asset to the continued development and success of these companies—almost as if they are finding that piece they’ve been missing.

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