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TODD SMITH — 10 steps to better writing from David Ogilvy, father of advertising

TODD SMITH

TODD SMITH

Perhaps Earnest Hemingway said it best: “Writing’s easy, just sit at a typewriter and open a vein!” Great wisdom from one of the greatest writers of all time.

It’s been said that the ability to write well helps a person achieve focus, which leads to better, clearer thinking. Great writers are gifts, but good writing can be achieved through constant work, practice, molding – and a thirst for language clarity.

But how can you learn to write better? One of the best sages – and influencers of today’s ad industry was David Ogilvy, and his timeless advice.

Despite never graduating from college, Ogilvy had a gift for the written word. At one point as a young man, Ogilvy found himself selling cooking stoves door-to-door. His employer noticed his success and asked him to write an instruction manual for the other salesmen.

Fortune magazine called it “probably the best sales manual ever written.”

Ogilvy eventually earned a position as an account executive for the London advertising agency Mather & Crowther, where his older brother worked. He immigrated to the United States and in 1948 founded the agency Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather in New York. That company eventually became Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world. And the rest is history.

Mather had a memo on great writing, which was posted on the Ogilvy & Mather Twitter account recently. Ogilvy wrote it in the fall of 1982, originally provided for management “to circulate as they saw fit.”

Ogilvy’s advice is timeless, and The Spin Cycle wanted to share the pearls of wisdom:

The better you write, the higher you will go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well. 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. (Writing That Works, Harper & Row, 1981) 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 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 person what you want. It’s all about relationship building through face-to-face, personal interaction.

Snapchat launches digital tech magazine Real Life

Snapchat doesn’t just care about video.

The company has launched a new digital magazine called Real Life, which recently began publishing a daily article on technology.

In a blog post describing the new initiative, Snapchat employee and social media critic Nathan Jurgenson writes, “Snapchat is now funding Real Life.”

“Real Life will publish essays, arguments, and narratives about living with technology,” Jurgenson said. “It won’t be a news site with gadget reviews or industry gossip. It will be about how we live today and how our lives are mediated by devices.” (This sounds a little like the turf of New York Magazine‘s recently launched Select All.) The publication will cover beauty, power, privacy, and relationships, among other things, and “we aim to address the political uses of technology, including some of the worst practices both inside and outside the tech industry itself,” writes Jurgenson.

So now Snapchat will technically have web content that is visible on desktop computers. No longer will Snapchat be constrained to mobile devices. And, at least initially, the medium will be primarily text, unlike the video stories and snaps the Southern California company has become known for.

This could one day drive revenue for ads that could help Snapchat bring in more cash flow ahead of a potential initial public offering (IPO), although “right now, we’re focused on the writing and ideas,” Jurgenson told VentureBeat in an email.

Real Life will have editorial independence, editor in chief Jurgenson said. So he and his team, including Rob Horning, Alexandra Molotkow, Sarah Nicole Prickett, and Soraya King will presumably have final say over what goes on the site (rather than deferring to Snapchat executives).

Tips for successful influencer marketing

In today’s world, building consumer trust through branding, marketing and public relations is paramount. One very effective and strategic way for brands to gain the trust of their consumers is to align with influencers – those that have a prominent and trusted voice, share values, lifestyle, and have credibility within the social space.

Here are three tips from Advertising Age on how you can drive success with your influencer marketing strategy:

1. Pick the right subject matter that will resonate with your target audience.

Within social media, reach is an appropriate indicator of how often a brand’s name appears within a customer’s social newsfeeds.

A 2015 study conducted by Nielsen reveals that 75 percent of consumers fail to match the correct brands with the ads viewed, and although brands may be reaching their audience, the majority of these customers would incorrectly attribute the brand’s ads to a competitor’s brand.

2. Use the right tools to correctly identify influencers and create content.

There are two key factors that play into the success of digital marketing leveraging influencers. The first is to identify and target influencers who are interested in your brand, product or service offerings, based on what they have typically discussed and how they self-identify as a subject matter expert.

The second factor is for brands and influencers to co-create content they will use to engage with their audience. This two-pronged approach requires acceptance from the brand to create curated customized, compelling and highly relevant content with minimal or no branding at all, as well as accurate targeting that takes into consideration the insights from the market sentiment.

3. Ensure consistency across all digital touch points, and accurately measure and evaluate the performance of influencer marketing strategies to form truly rewarding and lasting brand and influencer relationships. Brands have learned that it is important to build relationships with influencers over time to convert them to natural brand advocates. Rather than being used as a means to initiate engagement with influencers, campaigns should be used as a strategic way to further develop relationships.

Customers and influencers expect brands to talk with them and not at them. Brands that adopt influencer marketing strategies should ask themselves whether they’re doing influencer marketing or marketing to influencers.

Following these tips should help with strengthening relationships with influencers to spark organic conversations.

PEU Mic | Brexit branding headaches looms larger than Big Ben

Call it the great (Britain) branding migraine of 2016 – and the far-reaching fallout for Brexit could be larger and louder than Big Ben!

The entire global business community, from airlines to automakers, is scrambling to come to terms with the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union.

The advertising business is no exception, according to the Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today. The word of the moment is “uncertainty” – never a concept that sparks confidence in any industry, let alone one that is so tied to serving clients who spend budgets on marketing. And nothing is more vulnerable than budgets when consumer confidence dips. Johnny Hornby, founder of agency group The & Partnership, said during a panel in Cannes hosted by the newspaper that clients are already asking questions about what Brexit means for their brands. Agencies will surely preach patience, hoping that the market meltdown was just an overreaction, and that things will soon return to normal – or at least the new normal in Europe.

For now, The Spin Cycle – and the rest of the world – is waiting to see how the fallout drops. Perhaps the best quote in the mushrooming branding nightmare came from native daughter and Harry Potter author J.K Rowling, a vocal proponent of the “stay” side: “This is what happens when you try to fix a faulty watch with a hammer.” Couldn’t have said it better, myself!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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