Making every word count

In the face of social media, where the selfie is king and queen, and where the common currency for likes and reposts is images, videos and gifs, it is easy to assume that words are now yesterday’s news.

But actually it is the other way around – the crowded, image-led market place means that now more than ever, every word you use needs to count.

To make your words just impactful as your images, remember that the right word can also be worth a thousand words, to coin a phrase. It is not about how many words, or how quickly you can fill a space. Chosen well, a single word can powerfully convey everything you want to say. 20 years ago the single word, “Mummy” handwritten on an envelope attached to a pure white wreath, atop a lead-lined coffin conveyed everything about the unbearable grief of two young boys tragically bidding their farewells to a much loved princess. On the same subject, the carefully chosen, but spontaneously composed eulogy from Earl Spencer cut through all of the millions of newspaper columns and wall-to-wall broadcast coverage to strike a chord with the mourners. They applauded his words and his sentiments in an unprecedented show of support. Applauding at funerals is not something the British were given to do.

As PR professionals it is as easy to focus on the number, as well as the appropriateness of the words. Borrowing from our colleagues in advertising and marketing, the most memorable communications are usually the shortest. OK, OK for those old enough to remember, “lip smacking, thirst quenching…..” was a whole load of words and no punctuation. But the same generation of advertising gave us “go to work on an egg” and “tell Sid”. Now it’s “just do it” and “think different”.

Even in the social media whirl, finding just the right words whether it’s using no more than 140 characters, or just five letters, is still guaranteed to have impact and longevity. Simples.

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