One of the best parts of my day is the time I take to read on my train ride home from Solomon McCown. As an avowed reader of paper-and-ink books, I recently picked up David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man. Originally published in 1963, the book has been required reading for advertising types since the era of Mad Men.
While Ogilvy’s lessons focus mostly on best practices in advertising, there’s still plenty public relations professionals can learn from Ogilvy’s tome—especially those of us working on developing content for clients in the digital space. Here’s what I’ve learned, about two-thirds of the way through the book. (No spoilers, please!)
Don’t talk down to your audience: “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife,” Ogilvy writes as he explains what makes a campaign successful. Whether you’re pitching a reporter or writing a Facebook post for a client, remember that you’re only half of the conversation. Give your audience the information they need—not a bunch of buzzwords.
Brands aren’t built in a day: “Golden rewards await the advertiser who has the brains to create a coherent image, and the stability to stick with it over a long period.” The same theory is critical in public relations. What does your organization want to be known for? How do you stand apart from your competitors? Keep those aspects front of mind in all you do—from public relations to social media to advertising.
Do your research…: Ogilvy references his work with “Dr. Gallup” (yes, of the polling firm) several times in highlighting the importance of knowing your client’s audience and what they respond to—both negatively and positively—before starting a campaign.
…But trust your gut: “I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgement; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it like a drunkard uses a lamp post for support rather than for illumination.” Nothing to add to that amazing copy—it’s why Ogilvy remains required reading for anyone studying communications.
What advice have you taken from David Ogilvy? Let us know in the comments!