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Copywriters on the rack #29: Dee Primett

Hello and welcome to Copywriters on the Rack. Just lie down here and ignore the screams from next door. This may pinch a little…

Who are you and what do you do to pay the bills?

I’m Dee, and even after 8 years, I’m still amazed people pay me to write stuff for them. Or edit stuff they’ve already written. Or both.

What was your career path to get to where you are now?

Not so much a path but a crashing through the jungle. I didn’t even know being a copywriter was a “thing” until I actually started doing it.

The short version of events? Left college at 18, worked in travel and hospitality for a few years, then general office work. Had my first baby, so took an extended break from work, where I juggled parenting what became two kids and an Open University degree (2:1 in Humanities). Was intending to go and do a PGCE to become a teacher (primary, I’m not crazy) and a friend told me about a freelancing platform – that which shall NOT be named! I dabbled and before I knew it, I grew into a fully-fledged copywriter and the PGCE fell by the wayside! Looking at the education system now, I can’t help but think I dodged a bullet!

What’s the best thing about your job?

Honestly? The flexibility. It has made our lives so much easier. The kids have had the benefit of a full time mum who can go to every school play, every assembly, every doctor’s appointment with them without having to worry or ask anyone for permission. And I love working with so many different clients – it helps keep things interesting.

What’s the worst?

When clients can’t give you constructive criticism. Or when feedback is “by committee”. It’s nearly always contradictory. Too many chiefs. Oh, and when a client is in a Google doc while you are STILL WRITING THE DAMN THING. Let me work my magic in peace please. S***, I went on a bit there didn’t I.

How do you fill the gaps when you’re not doing the day job?

Well fairly recently it was with medical appointments, surgery and recovery. However, I’m quite pleased to be back to “normal” and spending my non-working hours refereeing my teenagers, reading countless crime novels and planning adventures.

Now we’ve got the formalities out of the way, let’s go rogue:

You’re locked in a cell with 2-foot thick stone walls and no windows. Outside the solid steel door, two fully tooled-up guards keep watch in shifts, 24 hours a day. Armed with only a swanee whistle, a bag of marbles and a jar of Branston Pickle, what’s your escape plan?

I had to Google what a swanee whistle is! Hmm, this is tough. I’ve never even done an escape room.

I’d probably annoy the shit out of them by playing the whistle constantly so they eventually see red and come rushing in, tripping over the marbles I had conveniently left behind the door so I could leap over them and make a break for it. I’d take the Branston with me. I certainly wouldn’t want to waste it on them!

Write me a poem about jealousy.

A haiku ok?

The green-eyed monster
Rears it’s ugly head again
Ner ner na ner ner

Who would win a fight, The Everly Brothers or The Beverley Sisters?

Are these bands? *Does a Google* Hmmm, obviously I am going to say the ladies would. War-era women were badass, and I think the Everly brothers would cry if they messed up their perfectly-coiffed hair!

Write me three straplines for:

1) Teleportation knickers
The underwear that gets you there – in more ways than one!

2) Genetically modified talking cats
Furry sarcasm for the lonely

3) The new album: Beyoncé Meets Chas & Dave in a Right Old R&B Knees Up
Ain’t No Pleasing Bey

Explain cheese on toast to an alien.

Surely, I would also have to explain the concept of bread and where it comes from, and where cheese comes from, by which time the cheese on toast would be cold. It seems a lot of hard work for a snack. I’d just say, it’s delicious, just eat it.

Fair enough. Now draw me a picture of a badger plastering a ceiling (yes I know you’re a writer, but do it anyway).

Copywriting is like an SAS boot camp, discuss.

It seems like a good idea, but nothing prepares you for quite how much hard work it is. It helps you build strength (to deal with difficult clients), develop new skills and stamina (to write long-form content that drains the life out of you). You learn to use different tools to get better at what you do. You encourage others around you and build lifelong friendships. It challenges you to your limits, but it’s worth it.

Snog, Marry, Boil in Salad Cream: Mo Farah / Mo Mowlam / Mo Salah

Snog – Mo Salah. He’s not the worst looking bloke in the world is he.
Marry – Mo Farah. He seems like a fairly nice chap and a good husband.
Boil in Salad Cream – Mo Mowlam. Sorry, Mo. Only cos you are no longer here and it can’t hurt you.

What is love?

Love is…. a four letter word. Love is being so exasperated by someone that you want to kill them, but not doing it because you would end up missing them too much.

Pick a random pic from your camera roll and tell us about it.

It’s a picture of a piece of my daughter’s art coursework. She’s currently doing GCSE art and has just applied to do art at college in September as she wants to be a tattoo artist. She’s very talented and I’m ridiculously proud of her.

My kind of picture! Now, write me a very short story featuring: Shaun Ryder with a nose bleed, Gyles Brandreth in a string vest and the world’s largest pumpkin.

Once upon a time, back in the 1990s, there was a wonderful party. Held in a majestic mansion, hidden deep within the forest, celebrities far and wide were invited. Among those was Shaun Ryder, renowned musician and party prince.

Shaun wasn’t averse to a little bit of mischief and decided to liven up the proceedings even more with a few liberal sprinklings of magic dust. A short while later, a gong sounded, and a hush fell over the partygoers. At the top of the stairs, the compere for the evening, Gyles Brandreth appeared, dapper as always in his coat and tails, and announced “dinner is ready”.

The starving celebrities stampeded through the corridor, and in the chaos, Shaun found himself crushed next to Gyles where he opened his mouth to say hello and proceeded to vomit the evening’s copious beers and whisky chasers down the front of Gyles, who panicked and ran in the opposite direction to the nearest bathroom.

Guilty, high and still feeling as though he might chunder, Shaun followed him to apologise. When he walked into the bathroom, he found Gyles stripped down to a pair of pink boxer shorts and a string vest, frantically cleaning the front of his suit jacket and trying not to retch.

Mumbling his apologies and with the taste of vomit in his mouth, he decided that he didn’t fancy a 4-course meal and he’d stay in the bar instead. The hours – and drinks – went by and before he knew it, the clock struck midnight. The guests made their way outside. As Shaun stumbled out of the door towards the line of carriages, he was amazed to see instead, a giant pumpkin waiting for him.

“F*** me I feel just like Cinderella”, he acclaimed, and fell headfirst inside, smacking his nose on the floor of the pumpkin and passing out. The last thing he remembered was the taste of the blood running down his nose and into his throat.

The end.

Make my skin crawl.

I think what makes your skin crawl is so subjective. For me, one of the first times I remember it happening was when I watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in the bit when the female character has to walk through the chamber with all the bugs and put her arm down a long, bug-filled gap to stop Indie and the kid being spiked to death. *Shudder*

Make my heart melt.

My nearly 13yr old son still calls me mama. And no, we aren’t from the southern U.S. where this is normal. If/when he starts calling me mum regularly instead, I will cry.

Soppy git. Snap out of it and write me dictionary definition entries for ‘Wilcock’s Lexicofantabulous Compendium of Oddities and Soddities’:

1) Smeeslinks
A new app for finding a first mate for your boat. 

2) Gipples
Troll nipples. Dark green, hairy and smell like mouldy cheese in a sewer.

3) Morton’s Grimace
A tonic for bad moods. Tastes like old socks. A spoonful of sugar does not make this medicine go down.

If you were alone on a desert island for a month, what 6 items would you take with you? (they have to fit in a Morrison’s bag for life, and yes, you can keep the bag).

I get 6?! How generous. Well, let’s see.

• My kindle, already pre-stocked with hundreds of books
• A solar charger for my kindle, obvs
• SPF50, cos skin cancer is real people, protect yourself!
• Moisturiser. Skin is an organ that needs to be taken care of too.
• 100% UV-blocking Sunglasses. Cos if you don’t protect your eyes, you are at greater risk of cataracts, macular degeneration and other sight-threatening problems.
• A decent pillow.

I hope this desert island is sunny and it’s not storm season!

Are you a medical Copywriter by any chance? Now make up your own question and tell me whatever you want to get off your chest.

Haha, what I want to get off my chest. Rolling around laughing here. I will let you off that one since you sent me these questions A YEAR ago, before I lost a tit!

“What’s the one thing I shouldn’t do when engaging in conversation with a freelancer”?

DON’T GHOST THEM!!! Gah, this still boils my piss. If someone takes the time to have a meeting with you (albeit via Zoom), back and forth email discussions and/or send a proposal, do not then ignore them. We’re all grown-ups and can take a ‘thanks but no thanks’. If you can tell us the reason why you’ve decided not to go ahead to satisfy our professional curiosity, that would be ace. But it’s not essential. Just don’t ignore the effort we’ve put in. Here, copy and paste this line instead:

“Thanks for your time, but we’ve decided not to go ahead with your proposal at this time”.

Bish, bash, bosh. You’re welcome.

Give me three reasons why I should let you go.

You’ve been waiting for me to fill this in for a year, you’re probably fed up with me by now.
I need to separate my teenagers (I can hear WW3 starting upstairs).
I’m hungry and in need of Mexican food. Unless you can bring me a burrito, freeeeee meeeeeee!!!

This may fly in the face of the Dungeon Torturers Code of 1538, but I must apologise (Gah!) for ‘Gipples’ and ‘…get off your chest’. I’m a torturer, not a monster!

Before I loosen the straps, tell us where we can find you online.

My website

Now, be off with you before I go and break another union rule!

Want to hear more Copywriterly confessions? Copywriters on the rack #28: Dave Harland