Friday 12 September 2014

David Ogilvy - Tips on Writing

David Ogilvy was the 'Father of Advertising' and founder of Ogilvy & Mather, the original “Mad Man.” In 1982, Ogilvy sent the following internal memo to all agency employees, titled “How to Write.” This appears in the 1986 book, The Unpublished David Ogilvy.

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.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Excellent writing advice. As usual, Henry, you provided a link to relevant material. I looked at
"Writing That Works, 3e: How to Communicate Effectively in Business" by Roman and Raphaelson but it was published in 2000 and although wonderful for that period, has old fashioned structure for business memos and nothing about tweets and blogs, so I'll give it a miss. Appreciate the sentiment, though.