Rethinking Ogilvy’s 10 tips to writing

PR pros and ad execs have long looked to David Ogilvy as a guide. His well-known approach to copywriting is considered imaginative and unorthodox. Here’s a spin on his 10 tips for writing.

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Through the wonders of social media, we periodically dust off commentary long relegated to the archives.

So it was with David Ogilvy’s advice on writing that recently made the rounds on LinkedIn. Ogilvy penned these 10 tips for writing on Sept. 7, 1982, in a memo to his employees.

His point of view has relevance for nearly all business communicators. I also think they’re worthy of more permanence than a fleeting update in a social media feed.

With this in mind, I’ve captured Ogilvy’s 10 tips with springboards into today’s business climate.

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.

The actual title of the book is “Writing that Works.” Although it’s not exactly clickbait, I wonder whether that’s why Ogilvy mentions the authors and not the title.

Though I didn’t read the book three times, I did scan it, uncovering useful passages such as:

“You’re not likely to get the results you seek if your writing is murky, long-winded, bogged down by jargon and topsy-turvy in its order of thought.”


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