Dear CMO:

It’s a wise dog that scratches its own fleas. It’s also a wise dog that punctuates the sentence correctly. It is a dog. Its fleas. Everyone gets this wrong. Unless they’ve read the first page of Strunk & White.

Have you read this? Do you own one or two (or more) copies of this book? I hope you have. I have my father’s copy, dating back to his newspaper days on the Times Herald where he worked the vice desk. I have my own copy from college. My now famous Google-translating nine-year old blogger son Nick also has his own copy. He wanted it and paid for it out of his own wallet. If you don’t have it, or heaven forbid, haven’t read it, please read it. Do it for us, your readers.

“First, you unload on advertisers using faulty (but improbably hip) language in ad copy and now this. Why the rant, old boy?”
Here’s why. I’m looking for a copywriter to do a little work for a client. The job is posted and now the applications are coming in. And, WOW, are they interesting.
“… I have been writing ad copy, online, copywriting and generally free lance writing.” (Rule 19: Express coordinate ideas in similar form).”… I’ve attached my resume; I hope you’ll phone me soon. I know you’ll agree I’m the best candidate for this position; I guarantee you’ll not find a better one.” (Semi-colons are great, unless you use them in every sentence. Then, they just look funny. And second, just for the record, over-selling doesn’t build credibility).

“… please forward a page for sample.” (Sorry, just plain English grammar. No rule necessary here).


If you’re a sales guy, ask for the job. (You’re supposed to be able to close, after all). If you’re a marketer, show up knowing something about the opportunity. (Would it be too much to ask if you demonstrated a knowledge of your market, even in microcosm?). If you’re an accountant, don’t make easy math errors. (Being oblivious to detail is a red flag under most SOX-compliant situations).

And if you’re a copywriter, write clearly.

“But since writing is communication, clarity can only be a virtue. And although there is no substitute for merit in writing, clarity comes closest to being one. Even to a writer who is being intentionally obscure or wild of tongue we can say, ‘Be obscure clearly! Be wild of tongue in a way we can understand!'”