March 06, 2018

You Gotta Read This

I was sitting at my desk doing whatever the hell it is a creative director does, when my associate creative director walked in.

"You gotta read this," he said.

"What is it?"

"A letter from a copywriter."

"We don't need a copywriter," I said.

"I know. But you gotta read this."

So I read it. By the end of reading the letter we were both laughing out loud and had invited the writer in for an interview. In the fullness of time, she became the chief creative and president of our agency.

Recently, a friend asked me to critique a cover letter he was writing for a job application. The letter was perfectly fine. It stated its case nicely, it was well-written, and it was articulate. But it was indistinguishable from a hundred other letters the prospective employer was likely to get.

My advice to him was this: Someone's going to open this letter and do one of two things - put it in a file with all the other letters or bring it to one of her colleagues and say, "you gotta read this."

If she puts it in the file you still have a chance of getting the job. If she takes it to a colleague and says, "you gotta read this" your chances just tripled.

Today, it is said, we do a lot less reading than we used to. I don't know if that's true. But one thing I do know, ironically we do a lot more writing. All day long we are writing emails, decks, texts, ads, tweets (god help us), content (god double-extra help us), strategies... some of us poor bastards even write blog posts. And most of it is crap.

That's okay because most of the time it doesn't need to be anything other than crap. But once a day or once a week or once in a while you have to write something really important. I'm sure there are a thousand somber posts on LinkedIn telling you how to write something really important. It's all bullshit.

There is only one objective you should have when writing something really important. You want one person to take it to another person and say, "you gotta read this."

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