Crafting messaging for your public affairs campaign can be a pretty daunting challenge. There are approximately 172,000 words in the English language, and you know that some combination of those is going to get you your desired results. So how do you choose the best words for your messaging? The answer is…well…simple.
You may have the lexicological prowess of a Harvard scholar, but if you’re using words like “lexicological” and “prowess” in your messaging, then you’re spinning your wheels. The average American is reading at a 7th or 8th grade level, and more recent studies suggest it may be lower than that.
If you’re not considering your audience, your writing is falling on deaf ears. Peggy Noonan, the speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, said it best: “We must have the sound appropriate to us… Your style should never be taller than you are.”
Want to practice? Here’s a handy word processor that only lets you use the 1,000 most common words in English.
It’s The Economy, Stupid.
When James Carville wrote those words on a sign in Bill Clinton’s campaign office, I doubt he thought he’d coined a phrase that would remain in political vocabularies for years to come. While Carville may be on the wrong side of the aisle, he definitely has the right idea.
Never lose sight of what is important.
Don’t get sidetracked with 100 different variations of your message. Find the two or three most salient points and hammer those home. It’s easy to feel like a message needs new talking points or new language for a speech, but consistency is much more important.
When you’re to the point where you’re totally sick of a particular phrase, that’s usually just when the consumer has begun to internalize your message.
Keep It Short, Stupid.
I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” -Mark Twain
What do President Trump and I have in common? We both love Twitter. While some people may wish he’d tweet less, President Trump understands a fundamental rule of good communication.
Keep it short.
Never use four words where three will do. The world’s most iconic slogans are rarely more than a few words strung together.
“Just do it.”
“I’m lovin’ it.”
Why are these slogans part of the American zeitgeist? Because they’re short and to the point.
A tweet is the perfect format to hone your messaging. Will your message fit in 140 characters or less? If not, you may want to rethink the way you’re saying it.
Stupid Good Results
Words are hard. Just ask Miss South Carolina…
If you need help crafting persuasive messaging that gets things done, give Cygnal a call. We have “the best” words. Just ask President Trump (or at least his first Super PAC we handled polling for).
Want to discuss more? Ping me anytime. Find me here.