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KristineS
08-19-2008, 06:50 PM
I always like these sort of articles (http://www.freelanceuk.com/news/2793.shtml) because they make me consider things I might not otherwise have thought about. In this case I probably wouldn't have thought to ask about legal issues, simply because I would assume that the company would have handled any such issues long before hiring a writer. It's a good reminder not to make assumptions.

vangogh
08-19-2008, 08:29 PM
Those are good questions to ask and like you I wouldn't have thought about the legal question.

The questions about target audience and market are good ones to ask and asking for a sample if one is available might be the most important of all.

Dan Furman
08-21-2008, 02:28 PM
The legal one puzzles me a bit. I wouldn't ask that, and really see no need, since I'm not involved with the company, etc (I will admit I'd want to know this if I enter into anything but a standard agreement, but that's rare.)

That said, I won't write about something I know to be illegal, but I'm not going to get bogged down in asking my client if he/she can prove that their product is legal.

Perhaps it's a UK thing? The author states that "many products can be tangled in legal issues", and right away, I thought "they are???" In years and years of doing this for hundreds / thousands of clients, I have not once run into this issue.

vangogh
08-21-2008, 03:57 PM
Interesting Dan. I guess you wouldn't really be responsible for any legal issues as the copywriter (not really sure, not being a legal expert), though I could see where you'd want to avoid the issue if you could.

I suspect the issue wouldn't come up a lot, but that could be because most products won't have the legal question. All it takes is one though.

KristineS
08-21-2008, 05:03 PM
I'm guessing it would be more if you were told that the product could be used a certain way and wrote the copy accordingly and then it turned out that using the product that way caused injuries and there were law suits. I don't know if the writer of the copy could be drawn into that, but I would assume it is always better to cover your behind.

Marcomguy
08-29-2008, 02:27 PM
One of the ways you demonstrate your skill level to a client is through the kinds of questions you ask.

For some of my clients, legal issues are involved in almost anything I write for them - even employee newsletters. So instead of asking "are there are legal issues involved in it," as the article suggests, I would probably tell the client something like "I'd like to say such-and-such, but it would be too close to the line and may not get by your legal folks. What do you think?"

Also, as a copywriter, I think the article's last question - What are your payment rates and conditions? - should be the first! :D

vangogh
08-29-2008, 10:28 PM
That's interesting Marcom. Shows the client you can speak their language. I'll often ask clients a lot of questions about their business and then start researching on my home for similar reasons. I think it's part of my business to understand my client's businesses.

cbscreative
08-29-2008, 11:29 PM
Actually, I think that list of questions is very helpful, and it's good reminder that the legal question should often be on the list. I'm not sure if it always needs to be asked, depending on your prior knowledge of the client's industry, but Marcom hit on why it can be important. I don't deal with this too often either, but sometimes, you need to be careful what you say, or how you say it, due to legal concerns. I can see the value of asking in advance if you're not sure. In addition, it's something the client should look for in your writing drafts.

Ad-Vice_Man
09-03-2008, 12:30 PM
I think the legal aspect isn't so much for the "legal" protection for the copywriter... IE being sued because of the product. But in the context of doing a good job for the client and keeping the clients best interests at heart.

A surefire way to lose a client is to walk them into a billion dollar lawsuit!

KristineS
09-03-2008, 02:59 PM
Very true, Ad-Vice Man. Unfortunately, some businesses do forget to do their due diligence investigating. Asking that question could prompt them to look a little more closely at their processes and operations.