Advice About Writing You Shouldn’t Ignore

ogilvyIn the ad business David Ogilvy is a legend and was founder of the firm Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson, & Mather in 1948 which morphed into Ogilvy & Mather (and most often refered to as merely Ogilvy) . David Ogilvy was not shy articulating what he believed were the techniques essential for effective writing and advertising. Students of the communications business would be wise to read amd his thoughts and ideas.

One such missive was his famous, “”How to Write” which is printed below:

How-to-Write (2)

Ogilvy was a wise man and we are all smart to follow his writing recommendations, but I am particularly struck by hint #10:

If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go tell the guy what you want.

He can be excused for the sexism of assuming one wants to influence “the guy”. In his era the ad business and business in general was male dominated.

His era was WAY before email was created, and I suspect Ogilvy wouldn’t be wild about email as a means to communicate other than basic facts. But Ogilvy understood that when you want to really influence another’s actions that the spoken word trumps the written word whether on paper or via email.

In fact I submit that email is often the coward’s way to communicate. How often do we all see someone pound out an email and hit send with a “that’ll show them” attitude only to receive a similar response. Arguments are rarely won via email, but with the spoken word, passion and nuance communicate the strength of one’s conviction.

So my Struming advice of the day is while we should all learn from items #1-9 in Ogilvy’s memo, his best advice might be to put down your pen (or more likely your keyboard) and just talk to someone instead. You’ll be surprised how effective the spoken word can be in getting things done.

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