Home > finals > Passion for editing leads to copy writing job at marketing agency

Passion for editing leads to copy writing job at marketing agency

By Mekenzie Kerr
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

Leah Gregory, copy writer for Ervin & Smith, photo courtesy of LinkedIn.

Leah Gregory, copy writer for Ervin & Smith. (Photo courtesy of LinkedIn.)

Although she never studied advertising or public relations in college, Leah Gregory found herself a spot doing what she loves as a copy writer for Ervin & Smith, a digital marketing agency in Omaha.

She still calls herself a “complete advertising newbie.”

Gregory attended Hastings College as an English major with an emphasis on language and linguistics with a studio art minor. When attending college, Gregory entered the English program a bit unsure of where she wanted to go with her degree.

“I am not a big reader so literature was never really on my radar and I never thought of myself as a writer, which is ironic because I am now a writer,” Gregory said in a phone interview.

Despite her initial uncertainty, when she found out that Hastings College offered a linguistics program she “dove in head first” as a freshman and ended up with an A+ in the highest-level course offered.

“I knew I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher, so this just felt like the most natural path for me,” Gregory said. “It came pretty easily.”

But Gregory’s knack for editing wasn’t procured in college, it has always been a natural trait since childhood.

“I can remember back in grade school if I spelled something wrong I noticed it immediately, or I could pick out other peoples’ grammar errors,” Gregory said. “I don’t know exactly where that all came from, but it was very much so a deeply engrained part of my personality.”

This natural ability fueled Gregory through college and into her first job at Sandhills Publishing in Lincoln, Nebraska, after she graduated in 2006. The company had a position open when she applied, making the transition from college to career smooth for Gregory.

After six years at Sandhills, she started her job at Ervin & Smith. She just recently celebrated her three-year anniversary with the company. She started there as a “proofer” whose role was to copy edit materials. With this job, she played an important role in the different tiers the company has for checks-and-balances before presenting clients with a final project.

Gregory now works as a copy writer at Ervin & Smith. She favors the part of copy writing that allows her to “solve problems using words.” And while she loves editing, working in the advertising world can pose challenges.

“I am not generally a very conceptual person, which makes copy writing difficult sometimes in advertising where you’re expected to come up with big conceptual ideas and work them out,” Gregory said. “So I just love having the opportunity to take a client’s problems and use words to solve them.”

As a copy writer and editor, Gregory finds it can be difficult to come up with words “on demand” when clients sometimes expect that ability happens automatically. And it can sometimes be frustrating when clients seek to incorporate edits that go against her judgment, writing style or even AP Style.

While at times conceptualizing ideas poses a hurdle for Gregory, it is her natural ability for editing that keeps her fueled.

“There’s the notion of making something as clear and compelling as possible but also correct; these are my three Cs, if you will, of making something successful,” Gregory said.

Gregory believes having an editor on staff is vital to success, not only to make sure Ervin & Smith’s work aligns with the customer’s voice but also fine-tuning each piece.

“It is really the full package an editor provides to make sure everything is as polished as can be.”

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