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Monday, June 25, 2012

10 Tips on Writing from David Ogilvy

Legendary adman David Ogilvy was considered by Time Magazine to be “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.” To celebrate the date of his birth (6/23/11), here is a copy of a memo he sent to all Ogilvy & Mather employees in 1982. It is titled “How to Write” and is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago.

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing*. Read it three times.
2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
6. Check your quotations.
7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.
CLICK HERE to get a copy of Ogilvy's "How to Create Advertising that Sells" – including full transcription.

* the book Ogilvy recommends reading 3 times is
“Writing That Works” by Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson

Source: “The Unpublished David Ogilvy: A Selection of
 His Writings from the Files of His Partners”

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