In a recent interview, a popular nonfiction author was asked if his daily output of polished writing was 1,000 words — a respectable number. He harrumphed dismissively: “I could do that much in my sleep.” At the other end of the spectrum is an oft-quoted apology for verbosity and lack of focus: “Sorry this letter is so long, but I didn’t have time to edit it.”
You all face similar situations daily. Every time you write an email, compose a business proposal or prepare a presentation. One rule never fails: Concise is good. So is memorable. Both are better.
The same is true in the high-stakes world of Crisis & Reputation Management.
Beware of sound bites. Too often they devolve into pithy quotes that lack substance. It’s true journalists love good quotes. The media’s appetite is insatiable, and it must be fed. But even journalists eventually realize when statements are simply “spin” and do nothing to move a story forward.
This isn’t a position you want to be in. It puts you behind the curve. It’s far more desirable to get out front. Seize control of the situation from the get-go. Set the tone and terms of the debate that work best for you and your client.
Choose your words wisely and make each of them work hard. Be memorable or you’ll be lost amid all the noise. But make certain your words aren’t hollow. They need to have meat, to drill to the core of the issue at hand.
At all costs, stay focused. If you have one key point — or two or three — stick to them. Anything you add just muddies the waters. The more points you make to the media, the more likely they are to run with the ones that are least important to you.
“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”
Gillott Communications is a Los Angeles-based public relations firm that specializes in high-stakes Crisis & Reputation Management. If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog Insights on High-Stakes PR. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.