When he’s not talking, Phil Dobbie is writing. Sometimes he’s writing about himself in the third-person.
He has written numerous articles on technology for ZDNet and business articles for CBS. One company raised a quarter of a billion dollars in finance, thanks in-part to an information memorandum that Phil wrote. He’s also written hundreds of op-eds for business leaders, as well as blog posts, white papers, brochures and websites. As a partner in an ad-agency for five years he’s also written his fair share of ad copy, particularly for press and radio.
When he’s not getting paid to do it, Phil writes anyway. He can’t help it. So, given his words will be finding themselves thrown together somewhere, why not direct them to your website, blog, ads or press activity. In return, we promises pointed copy that will grab your reader’s attention.
In fact, Phil has eight golden rules for writing:
An article should have one single argument. You can state the case in multiple directions, but don't ever deter from the subject. Articles that stray into related ideas quickly become unwieldy and water-down the premise.
Grammar is boring. Sure, there are basic ground rules that need to be followed, but there are just as many that need to be broken. Like starting a sentence with sure, or like.
The headline counts more than anything. A strong title can double the audience for any piece. Ideally, it should be provocative, or witty, or both.
It should be pithy. Too many blog pieces are longer than they need to be. Everyone should go through the exercise of culling unnecessary words and deleting repeated arguments. Usually this will half the length of the piece and double the reader’s attention span.
Humour is essential. But it’s easy to spot when the writer is trying too hard to get a laugh. Often, it’s the casual throw-away remarks or subtle references that raise a smile and win the confidence of your reader. In other words, clever humour works, slapstick doesn’t.
Writing by committee should be outlawed. The ability for many writers to collaborate on a document was the beginning of the downfall of civilisation. Many corporate marketing types have become expert at developing unreadable garbage that’s the hybrid of multiple personalities, writing styles and mixed messages.
If you can’t say it, don’t say it. Companies need to be brave. I’ve frequently heard the line, “We’d like to say this but it’s too bold. Can you write something that doesn’t quite say it.” Really, what’s the point. If people are reading your stuff, you need to say something. Otherwise, don’t bother.
Avoid cliches. When writing a radio ad never use the line, “There’s never been a better time to … “
Malcolm Turnbull has criticised the NBN approach for ignoring the VDSL potential in areas currently slated for wireless coverage. When you look at the current ADSL penetration in these areas you can see, he has a point.
I remember when I used to wear jeans with a 28 inch waist (71 centimetres). I was in my late teens and I was not considered thin or fat. Everyone seemed to be the same shape. Today, in Australia I would have been in the slimmest 13 percent of the population.