Celebrating The Power of the Printed Word: Part I


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I’m a bit longer in the tooth than today’s typical agency person. I’d argue it’s good to have folks like me around, but we’ll save that argument for another post. In the interim, though, I’ll offer one way older folks make a unique contribution: They have longer experience from which to draw ideas and knowledge.

When it comes to writing and other forms of communication, one resource I’ve always appreciated is the 12-part “Power of the Printed Word,” a 1982 ad campaign by International Paper Company that asked celebrities to comment on an aspect of language in which they had expertise or interest. It was wildly popular: Initially, the company offered free reprints of the articles but was forced to stop somewhere in the course of the estimated 27 million requests it’s received since.

As I read through them recently, 35 years after they were first published, I was amazed at how much of the content is still relevant, informative and inspiring. Sure, some is a bit dated, but, just like we older workers, that adds an additional perspective – the one in which could reside a better idea or better tools to execute it.

Over the next few months, all 12 of these ads will be run here. I’d encourage you to read them, share them with your staff and co-workers, and most of all, let them ignite in you a renewed appreciation for great communication and an interest in aspiring to take your communications skills to the highest place possible.

I’ll start each post with some thoughts about the ad du jour: These are thoughts for you to take or leave, but I’m hoping they’ll stimulate some thinking that, if adopted, will add value to how you communicate and to what you offer your customers or clients.

Enjoy.

Mike's Musings: "How to write with style” by Kurt Vonnegut
When you write, consider the reader. Vonnegut makes great points about the importance of straightforward copy. If a reader has to work too hard, he or she won’t bother. And, as it is with anything, if you’re writing is sloppy, it won’t take long for your customer, co-worker or boss to conclude you may be sloppy in other areas of your work, too.

Pullquote: "Your rule of thumb might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out."