Monday, November 21, 2011

Will using big words make my copy sound more intelligent? --signed "College Grad"

Dear College Grad:

Writing awkward-sounding, jargon-riddled compound sentences that run on for lines doesn't make you appear smarter. So what does? Writing more using fewer words. Don’t kid yourself; that takes work. Blaise Pascal (1623–62), 17th-century French philosopher and mathematician, once wrote to a friend. “I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter.” My wife’s grandmother defined a “lady” as a woman who  studies herself in the mirror before she leaves the house and takes off one accessory. Make that a metaphor for your writing. 

Most important, be sure what you write makes sense. The following example, taken from an actual published Letter to Shareholders, does not make sense. The implication here is that along with writing less, you must also write with greater clarity. In this example, the words were already there, so it was more a case of following grandmother’s rule and pruning away the unnecessary ones.

Our commitment to sustainability is deeply rooted in the culture of our company. We believe it is our responsibility to focus on leveraging our leading global platform to bring together the best and most cost effective, energy-saving and environmental practices from around the world to create value in a sustainable manner.
Our company creates sustainable value for customers and stakeholders by bringing together  the most cost-effective, energy-saving and environmental practices from around the globe. 

Your Assignment:
The world is brimming over with run-on sentences that don't make sense. Pick one and rewrite it. 

Dear Freelance Copywriter is brought to you by Robert Roth at ROTH copywriting.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What makes a good tagline good?-- signed "Slogan Challenged"

Dear Challenged:
As United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography, "I know it when I see it." Freelance copywriters could say the same about good taglines. In an recent blog post, Creative Review asked a panel of industry experts to name their top five taglines. If you want to hone your know-it-when-you-see-it skills, see their answers here.

Dear Freelance Copywriter is brought to you by Robert Roth at ROTH copywriting.