Isn’t Twitter great for getting information quickly? And isn’t it terrible for loading your timeline with stuff that sometimes makes the heart sink?
As a Twitter fan I’ve noticed that it gets news out faster than mainstream media. Sometimes it’s accurate, too. And I love the quirky stuff, like this recent multi-reTweet.
‘AsdaEmployee: ‘What you want on the cake?’
Customer: ‘Best Wishes Suzanne’ and underneath that ‘We will miss you’.
Well, it amused me – and obviously a lot of others.
But there’s one thing of which I am now a bit weary: it’s those little quotes of pithy wisdom that lots of us see on a daily basis. I get so many of them that I remember none. They’ve merged in my brain into an amorphous mass of mini homilies.
You know the sort of thing: ‘The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance.’
Yes, it’s a perfectly sensible and sound bit of advice but there are thousands like it competing for attention. So far, none has motivated me to be more efficient, decisive and dynamic. Of course, that’s more to do with me than them.
So if we’re going to have quotes, let’s have more entertaining ones I say. That means celebrating the wit of geniuses like Mark Twain, Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde. The bonus is that you can apply them to your own profession or trade.
For today let’s focus on public relations. We PR people love surveys and ‘research’. Well, they seem to do the job for clients.
In the words of Mark Twain: ‘Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.’ Well, we’d all agree, wouldn’t we? Without them, how would newspapers fill all the gaps?
And he also advised: ‘Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.’ Ah yes, so true. And as a last resort: ‘Honesty is the best policy – when there is money in it.’ Steady on Twainy, we can’t possibly agree to that last one.
It’s evident that Oscar Wilde was born before his time. Today, he surely wouldn’t write: ‘It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.’ Dear Oscar, these days we are just about drowning in it from a torrent of news releases. Count yourself lucky.
But he was wise chap in many ways, as I think when I hark back to my early PR days and his glorious quote. ‘I am not young enough to know everything.
Let’s consider news releases. It’s so annoying when our carefully crafted masterpieces of informative prose fail to make it into broadcast media, print – or even online. Sometimes you’ve just got to agree that Gandhi may have got it right. ‘I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.’
Still, forgive, forget and move on, eh?
Aristotle, writing before the IPR got its chartered status, got it spot on about our news releases: ‘Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.’
And what about that Albert Einstein, eh? Not only did he know the secret of nuclear fission, he was also clued up on what makes a damn good news release: ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge…’
Up to a point Albert, but I agree that it must help a bit.
Winston Churchill also had some advice that may be heeded PR wordsmiths:
‘Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.’
And as for grammar: ‘From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.’
Sir Winston also urged people to be a bit realistic. Does this sound familiar?: ‘However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.’
But even if you aren’t in PR, his advice applies to whatever you do: ‘Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.
And at this point I think my brief bit of whimsy has gone on long enough. After all: ‘By my rambling digressions I perceive myself to be growing old.’ Thank you, Benjamin Franklin.
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