TeaTalk with: Catriona Watson, Copywriter

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TeaTalk with: Catriona Watson, Copywriter

We sit down with Catriona (or Beanie), our copywriter for a cuppa and a chat. We find out how and why she got into writing, what she’s most proud of and what motto helps her at work.

What inspired you to get involved in the creative industry in particular? Was this something you always wanted to do?

I’ve always liked writing. When I was little, I used to draft half-baked stories or diary entries and then furiously cross them out. That meant I was always forcing my mum to buy me new notebooks (and smelly gel-pens) because I couldn’t write in one which had a mistake in. I studied English Language at uni. But I don’t think I even knew what jobs existed until I started applying for them. And until you start at a company, and get stuck in, you don’t really understand the nitty-gritty everyday work. I applied for grad schemes.

I spent ages practising competency-based interview questions and learning the ‘STAR model’. After what felt like hours (but was probably only minutes) on faceless automated video calls – I gave up. I did an internship at a PR agency and found that it was the writing side that I loved.

After that, I got a lucky break in journalism penning trashy celebrity gossip for one magazine and all things parenting and babies for another. I then got what felt like my dream job as a writer for an independent branding agency in London Bridge. I loved the atmosphere, the people and the eye-wateringly expensive food you could buy in Borough Market. But then COVID happened. To be closer to family, I moved back to sleepy Worcestershire. I’ve had a few wobbles. Sometimes it’s hard to remember how much fun it is working in the creative industry when you’re obsessing about a word or what type of punctuation to use. But I’m not going to cut my ear off like Van Gogh. And 99% of the time I really feel like this is my thing (as cliché and cringey as that sounds).

What is it that makes Cogent different to other places you have worked at?

At my old job, so much of the work was setting a tone, suggesting what a brand’s copy ‘could be’ without ever seeing it in giant letters on a billboard. Or worse, seeing that it turned out absolutely nothing like it. That means you spend days, weeks or months writing something and – poof – it’s disappeared into the ether.

At Cogent, you work on the job from start to finish alongside the relationships team, the other creatives, and the clients. It’s great to actually see writing come to life. There’s so much variety too. In just a month, I’ve worked on TV, radio and animation scripts. I’ve visited a brand-spanking new motorcycle factory to get inspired for a much-anticipated launch film. I’ve written about (and tried to understand) our complex energy system and revolutionary recycling methods. I’ve searched my soul and racked my brains for headlines about trains, buses, the fuel that powers them, supplements, coffee and Great British pubs. You name it – I’ve had a go.

What’s your career highlight to date, something you’re proud of?

Working with brands that I know and love is a highlight. Working with brands that I’ve never heard of is always surprising and rewarding too. I worked with one of my best friends to create a brand from scratch. It was an ethical business founded by three women and I loved their mission. The brief was wide open. I had a lot of fun coming up with some really out-there names and a tone of voice full of attitude to match. It’s still in development and I can’t wait to see it. Basically, seeing anything that I’ve written, designed up beautifully or read aloud by a voiceover artist, makes me feel proud. Even the simplest words can look out of this world when they’re put together with great design. And hearing your writing voiced just like you imagined in your head is really exciting.

Do you have a motto or ethos that helps you in your everyday work?

More is more. Equally, less is more. I need to constantly remind myself of this. It’s all too easy to use the same old tropes and to stick to the brief to the letter. But all the best work that you see on TV, on posters or in awards short-lists started as just a bizarre idea. In the worst-case scenario, somebody will laugh or disagree with you. Recently, when I’m writing, I try to conjure up a voice in my head that says “It’s OK to be a bit silly”, “Add more sprinkles”, “Why not cross a line?” or sometimes just “make it even simpler”. It’s actually the voice of all the good creative people I’ve met who’ve told me to push the tone of voice a bit further, to stretch the brief as much as you can, and to gently nudge the client too. Because that’s when you create something that really stands out.