Get tough – don’t let clients write their own copy

I was delighted to see Larry Barker declare his support for writing (DW 4 February), and equally pleased to see the top designers you quoted endorsing that support.

I was delighted to see Larry Barker declare his support for writing (DW 4 February), and equally pleased to see the top designers you quoted endorsing that support.

However, the problem doesn’t lie with the top people in the industry, but down at ground level where nine design groups out of ten tell me they don’t use freelance writers because, they say, ‘the client writes it’. Why do you let them do that?

I’m sorry, I don’t understand, and it’s not just because I’m a writer. Would you let the client do its own illustrations or photography or its own artwork or pre-press?

Although consultancies are partly to blame for not winning the arguments, it is clients, after all, which think they can save money by writing it themselves.

They seem happy to have beautifully designed, beautifully shot, beautifully printed gibberish because ‘no one reads copy’.

This is hardly surprising if it’s poorly constructed, badly punctuated, over-verbose, jargon-laden bollocks.

Even design consultancies whose custom and opinions I value and which I thoroughly enjoy working with because they value my input just as highly, allow certain clients to write their own copy. It’s just as well the president of British Design & Art Direction has pledged to boost the standing of writing – it has never been in such low regard.

Please, could all designers out there start insisting to clients that they can’t write it themselves, because whatever they might think, they can’t write.

For instance, we can all count, but it doesn’t make us all accountants. We can all see, but it doesn’t make us all opticians. Writing is a craft and needs as much care as any other part of the design process.

Sorry, I’ll get back in my pram now and continue sulking quietly to myself.

Dennis O’Neill

Radcliffe On Trent

Notts NG12 1AD

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