We in advertising are in the communications business. And because communications is our business, we strive always to be best at it, to set the standards of excellence in Truth Well Told. That process starts with our personal business communications, with the letters, memos, repots and documents we sign our names to every working day. You will need certain skills to deal properly with the form and content of this business correspondence. Improving those writing skills is never-ending process at McCann-Erickson-we just can’t get too good. The pages that follow are your”starter packet” to guide you toward better business writing and to help you along your career path n advertising.
These seven guides are hands-on, practical tools to augment training in writing skills. They were designed for easy removal as an on-the job aid as well as a handy reference in your McED Fundamentals binder. They provide a start toward improving the quality of our business correspondence on a local agency basis and establishing a higher standard throughout the Mc Cann network.
A selected bibliography on good business writing (in English) and graphics communication follows the Writing Guides.
Mc Ed Writing Guide
On Better Layout
Beyond the words you use in a letter, the lay out of the page is important to enhance as well as convey meaning. Below are some general guidelines to help you make your written work more effective.
Use White Space to invite Readership
Use the white of the page to invite the reader into your copy:
1. Wide Margins – Use wide margins
so that your letters does not look
2. Paragraph Separation – Use white space to separate your paragraphs rather than indenting paragraphs.
3. Indent a Sentence – For emphasis,
indent an entire sentence.
This not only helps the reader understand how your letter is organized, but if the headings summarize your key points, they also provide a quicker read.
Use Attention Grabbers
Use and attention grabbers up front to engage your reader and give an overview.
Use Parallel Construction
When making a list, use parallel construction (like verb tenses, pronouns, etc) to enhance readership.
Use Clear Copies
A bad photocopy defeats your hard work
Appendix Everything You Can
Keep your memos as short as you can. One page, if possible. The Shorter they are, the better chance they will get read. If the reader needs more information, he/she will go to the appendixed exhibits.
Vary the Length
Make your paragraphs and sentences different lengths to make them inviting to read.
Use Bullets or Numbers
Use both for subpoints to help organize the page visually. Numbering points also aids memorability.
Underlining is good for headings and topic sentences. It is also effective for stressing key words in a sentence. But avoid overdoing it. And please
use continuous underlining not choppy underlining under each word.
Use Numbers Sparingly
Reduce the amount of numbers you have in a paragraph. Write them so they are readable: $100 million, not$100.000.000 . If you have a lot of numbers, consider using a chart.
Both of the memos on the following two pages have exactly the same wording. It is the layout that makes the difference.
To: All Officers and Department Head Date: December 19. 1004
Just a short memo to set our priorities for the coming decade. Our industry is going through
Tough times right now. We have been through the feckless buyout binge fueled by massive borrowing. The ebbing economic tide now reveals devalued stock prices. We will face even more revenue and cost pressures in the ‘90s as we continue to erode already razor – thin margins in fee and commission wars. While many agencies are placing their priorities on profits first, we are going to dare to be different. Here are our priorities: People are our asset. People create the product, have the ideas and make the difference. If we are to differentiate ourselves, we need to invest in our people so that they will provide value-added services for which our clients will be willing to pay a premium …getting us out of a parity price squeeze. We need to redefine our products to meet the emerging needs of our clients, not ourselves. At the center of them all are”ideas”. After all, that is the business we are in and the value we add to our client’s businesses. And finally, we have to make a profit. That is why we are in business. If we cannot make a profit, we will lose self-esteem, our clients’respect and our economic reason for being. The advertising industry is being battered by forces that will radically change the way we do business. In the final analysis, those that survive and flourish will have to have a vision and their priorities clearly set. People. Product. Profits. Those are our priorities for the ‘90s.
To: All Officers and Department Heads
Just a short memo to set our priorities for the coming decade.
Our industry is going through tough times right now. We have been through the feckless buyout binge fueled by massive borrowing. The ebbing economic tide now reveals devalued stock prices. We will face even more revenue and cost pressures in the’90s as we continue to erode already razor-thin margins in fee and commission wars.
While many agencies are placing their priorities on profits first, we are going to dare to be different.
Here are our priorities:
1. People: People are our assets. People create the product, have the ideas and make the difference. If we are to differentiate ourselves, we need to invest in our people so that they will provide value-added service for which our clients will be willing to pay a premium…getting us out of a parity price squeeze.
2. Product: We need to redefine our products to meet the emerging needs of our clients, not ourselves. At the center of them all are” ideas”. After all, that is the business we are in and the value we add to our clients’ businesses.
3 Profit: A finally, we have to make a profit. That is why we are in business. If we cannot make a profit, we will lose self –esteem, our clients’ respect and our economic reason for being.
The advertising industry is being battered by forces that will radically change the way we do business. In the final analysis, those that survive and flourish will have to have a vision and their priorities clearly set.
People. Product. Those are our priorities for the ‘90s.
Mc Ed Writing Guide
On Contact Report
“CR” stands for Contact Reports, Conference Report, or Call Report, or Call Report. No matter what you call them, they are probably the first and most important document you will write when you have client contact.
The purpose of a CR is to record key decisions chronologically and to identify next steps between our agency and our clients on all major meetings and phone calls. The CR does six things:
1. It summarizes the meeting for those attending, assuring a common understanding.
2. In informs those people not attending of the status of the latest issues, decisions, agreements and steps o a particular project.
3. It provides written feedback to the client of a project’s progress for future reference.
4. It provides direction for implanting next steps to move the project ahead.
5. It provides a written historical record of a projects progress for future reference .
6. Unlike minutes, the Contact Report highlights important events or actions; it should not record every detail.
1. Keep them short. Only two things should be in a CR. That’s right, two:
A. What were the key decisions/ agreements?
B. What are the next steps? By whom ?
How to Write One
Follow the example on the opposite page. There are two basic sections: the heading and the body. Make the CR list cover all essential people at the client and here. Organize subjects in the order discussed during the meeting or in the order of importance. Identify who does what by when in the next steps.
Other Important Hints
Meeting Closings – At the meeting being reported, the person writing the CR should verbally sum it up in the CR format. You will be surprised how often this helps to clarify things and makes your job easier.
Meeting Openings – To open the next meeting, pass out a copy of the previous CR. This will get everyone oriented on common ground before you do what you said you would do.
Client: Foods, Inc.
Brand Product Snap’n Pop
From: R. Smith
To: J.Doe, S.Que, R. Farley, W. Wentworth, T.Coburn, D. Bell
Subject: Snap ‘n Pop Creative Exploraty and media Plan
Present for Client: J.Doe, S.Que
Present for Agency: R. Smith, W. Wentworht, R. Farley, T. Coburn
Date of Meering: 9/13/94
1. Snap ‘n Pop Creative Exploratory
Today M/E presented three campaigns to “Client”.
· “Popping Box”
· “Mr. Pop”
We recommended and the client approved” Mr.Pop” for production.
2. Today M/E presented two media plans to “Client”.
· Continuity Plan
· Flighting Plan
“Client” requested that we develop and alternative”Pulsing Plan” tjat examines a 52 week pattern of being in advertising for three weeks followed by a two-week hiatus.
1. J. Good to bid the commercial…………………………………..10/20
2. S. Weed to clear legal and networks…………………………….10/30
3. T. Bud to begin casting…………………………………………..10/20
4. Client meeting date……………………………………………….12/5
5. P. Paul to develop Pulsing Plan for agency review
A Competitive Copy Analysis is an important document both for us and the client because it keeps everyone abreast of timely changes that could affect your brand’s creative product.
The purpose of a Competitive Copy Anaylsis is to provide timely on your competitor’s copy strategy and execution. It also is one of the best ways to develop creative strategic skills and creative executional judgment.
Start with the assumption that your competitors are smart as you are.
This will guide you to be objective and therefore more credible in your analysis.
How to Write
Heading: This gives all the pertinent data as to when and where the advertising was monitored.
Put this execution in the context of the overall positioning of the overall positioning of the product and its current campaign, reminding your reader of the bigger picture.
Execution: Next, discuss the type of execution: Slice of Life, Presenter, Documentary, Celebrity Endorsement, Demonstration. Then, give a balanced assessment of the pluses and minuses.
Implications: Perhaps the most important but often omitted section of a competitive report is the “so what?” Draw some conclusions as to what this means to your product. Should you reassess your strategy in light of this new competitive copy? Are there any executional lessons to learned?
Strategy: Describe the strategy in items of the target, benefits and support points. Then assess both the pros and cons of the strategy.