They Say. We Say.

Don't be a victim of verbal clumsiness.

Don’t be a victim of verbal clumsiness.

Until Thursday and Friday, only three women and six men knew how the U.S. Supreme Court was going rule on Obamacare and same-sex marriage. Everyone else was just speculating.

That’s why pundits and politicians were ready with two sets of quotable and profound-sounding one-liners, praising the court for its wisdom and declaring the battle settled — or condemning the justices for over-reach and activism and pledging to keep fighting on other fronts.

Which remarks were used depended on whether the speaker agreed with the rulings.

Why the rush? To set the tone. To shape the public’s response. To rally to their supporters.

To achieve those goals, your words must get out in the first few moments, into the media’s stories, on Twitter, on Facebook.

The media is moving with feverish speed. If you hesitate, they move on. You slip from the spotlight, and someone else takes your place.

Crafting your comments beforehand lets you polish the message and get it just right. Your words will resonate and be remembered. That’s what you want. It gives you prominence and makes you a thought-leader.

Rushing to cobble something together after the fact yields weak results. Concepts are incomplete. Words may be serviceable, but seldom soar and will be soon forgotten.

The worst comes from ad-libbing, from not thinking through implications before letting words tumble from your mouth. Was Donald Trump’s tirade about Hispanic immigrants intentional, or simply thoughtless? Were Donald Sterling’s comments about Blacks a sloppy choice of words, or an accurate reflection of his beliefs?

If your goal is to steer perception and reaction:

  • Define your message. Keep it short and simple.
  • Refine the language so it’s powerful and memorable.
  • Read it aloud to yourself. Does it really say what you mean — or can it be misinterpreted? (Remember Mitt Romney and the “47 percent”?)

Verbal clumsiness can ruin reputations and upset careers and dreams.


“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Prep. More than half a century of expertise working with clients to resolve issues both in and outside the media’s glare — in their professional and personal lives.

You can reach Roger Gillott and Eden Gillott Bowe directly at 310-396-8696.

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For a deeper glimpse into our world, see our book on Amazon, “A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR: Protecting Your Clients In & From the Media.”


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