Senior Copywriter – U of A

Dear Hiring Decision Maker:

Please consider me in your search for a Senior Copywriter.

Let’s start with my salutation, which I’ve recently adopted instead of “Dear Sir or Madam”, as I may be addressing someone who answers to neither of those greetings. Note, as well, that I’ve prepared a web page in support of this application, featuring links to my writing and samples of my other creative abilities.

My life has never been far from creative expression.

After studying Commercial Art in high school, I enrolled in the BFA program in Art at the U of A; later opting to take B.Ed. degree, which I completed in 1983. My last two years of study, I was a writer for the Gateway and, in my final year, I served as Production Editor. The campus newspaper was a stimulating environment with all kinds of debate, for example, “Should we allow the local strip club to advertise?” After some discussion, I was assigned to cover the establishment’s activities and interviewed one of the dancers. My final year also saw me turn down an offer to complete an Honors Degree in English.

I had hoped to stay on as Editor but my disappointment on not being elected was short lived, as I accepted a position as a Communications Officer II at The University of Calgary. In addition to writing for the bi-weekly Gazette, I also provided writing, photographs, illustrations and graphic design, as required. As you’re aware, universities are stimulating places and I provided articles on student, staff and faculty activities, often seeking creative ways to make technical material accessible and engaging to a general audience. My article, New ways to slice the mapping pie, and its accompanying commissioned illustration, is one example. My bio of new staff member, Beatrice Medicine, illustrates my ability in that regard. At the time, the U of C offered free tuition to staff and I completed courses in art history, Canadian history (with Grant MacEwan) and Communications Research Methods.

After four enjoyable years, I joined Grant MacEwan Community College as a Journalism Instructor teaching courses in mass media, graphic design, photojournalism and news laboratory. Deciding I’d rather write rather than correct, I left this position and moved to Vancouver, joining Canadian Forest Industries Magazine as Western Editor, where I covered all aspects of the business including harvesting, milling and safety. The position I’d hoped to be long term proved the opposite and, after some freelancing in Vancouver, I purchased a Val-Pak direct mail advertising franchise and moved to Nanaimo. Advertising sales was a challenge and I did my best to convince my clients that their investment was worthwhile. Thankfully, in the coupon business, that’s more easily proved than in others, but I was frustrated at how, even when the numbers were good, my clients resented the money they “spent”, rather than invested, with me.

After selling the business, I freelanced in Nanaimo for the BC Business Examiner, Free Press Real Estate, Free Press Showcase and wrote for the Nanaimo Daily Free Press before joining T-MAR Industries in Campbell River as Marketing Manager. At T-MAR, among other duties, I produced company videos, advertising, brochures and used my knowledge of communications methodology to survey customers. I also launched the company’s newsletter, The T-MAR Times.

A downturn in the industry ended this position and, after teaching a number of courses on a contract basis for the Nanaimo School District, I spent the next 10 years teaching students from grade-three to adult in seven different countries. While overseas, I developed curricula, educational materials and assessments for many different educational programs including the Irish Leaving Certificate, IGCSE and PYP, MYP and Diploma Baccalaureate. In the UAE, I worked to develop a curriculum for the instruction of vocational mathematics and co-wrote a series of workbooks and assessment materials in support. I also wrote and produced a documentary, Truck Logging in Africa. In Saudi Arabia, I produced a film based on my children’s story, The Apple of Albert’s Eye, using illustrations provided by my grade-seven classes.

Returning to Canada in 2012, I completed the first year of the Hearing Aid Practitioner Program at MacEwan and, later, the Residential Property Licensing Examination at UBC, two demanding online study programs.

You seek someone with a “thoughtful portfolio of creative and engaging work”. My return to Canada saw me launch my website to highlight my creative talents in writing, painting, photography, videography, music and graphic design. My art emphasizes the positive and my Happy Face Series is a good example. You also seek someone who can participate in video productions and I invite you to view my video application for the position of traveling ambassador for Air Transat; written, directed and edited by myself in the UAE. An example of working in a creative pairing would be my serving as “team lead” for a proposal to design a Holocaust Memorial for Ottawa.

You also seek someone who adores “the Oxford comma”, someone who “is judging the writing of this ad as you read it” and someone who has a “deep knowledge of the Canadian Press Stylebook”, so let me point out the contradiction in this request. The CP stylebook does not use the Oxford comma and you are inconsistent in its use in the writing of your ad. If making “the world healthier, safer, stronger, and more just.” requires the Oxford comma then “writing, proofreading and editing services as needed” should be “writing, proofreading, and editing services as needed”. My suggestion is that you eliminate the use of the Oxford comma, as it is being used less frequently and provides an unnecessary stop for the mind to process as it reads. If you don’t agree, then you need to be more attentive. Examples: “histories, languages and cultures” to “histories, languages, and cultures”; “videographers, motion designers and more” to “videographers, motion designers, and more”. There are numerous other examples.

I’m thankful we agree on just one space after a period, but as much as you seek writing that is “punctuation perfect”, I think you’re first priority is finding a writer who is a “whiz with words” and has “a brain for big ideas”. I am that person. Consider my article, Assholes – Another Theory, critiquing the book, Assholes: A Theory, by philosophy professor, Aaron James. I believe it is an important piece of writing that addresses a vital topic: how we view others who don’t behave as they should.

I could go on at length, but perhaps I’ve done that already, so let me conclude by suggesting we meet to discuss, in more detail, the contribution I could make to the U of A in filling the role of Senior Copywriter.