Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist, shares an interesting counterpoint to the notion that social media is about sharing ideas in tidbits and 140-character clips.
In “The Internet Helps Us Get Serious,” she notes with optimism that the ability for politicians to engage in serious political and philosophical debate has been greatly enhanced by Web-based technologies—an important and often-overlooked counter trend to the mass media soundbite world we’ve been living in for the past few decades.
Noonan credits social media for enabling citizens to share and digest “serious speeches” that enable them to analyze and understand where our political leaders stand on key issues, and to make informed decisions based on this knowledge:
“People in politics think it’s all Facebook and Twitter now, but it’s not. Not everything is fractured and in pieces, some things are becoming more whole. People hunger for serious, fleshed-out ideas about what is happening in our country. We all know it’s a pivotal time.”
Often, we in the communications business get so caught up in creating a clever headline or breaking off a quick Tweet in the hopes of garnering the attention that we forget to include the ideas that actually sell the product. And getting attention is a critical first step, as Alec Baldwin will tell you (starting at the 3:27 mark), but that doesn’t mean we should be afraid to put our ideas out there.
If you have 20 minutes worth of stuff to say, go ahead and put it out there…chances are good someone wants to hear what you have to say.
Just ask U.S. Senator Ron Johnson. Again from Noonan:
“[Johnson] was thinking of running for the Senate against an incumbent, Democratic heavy-hitter Russ Feingold. He started making speeches talking about his conception of freedom. They were serious, sober, and not sound-bitey at all. A conservative radio host named Charlie Sykes got hold of a speech Mr. Johnson gave at a Lincoln Day dinner in Oshkosh. He liked it and read it aloud on his show for 20 minutes. A speech! The audience listened and loved it. A man called in and said, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ Another said, ‘I have to agree with everything that guy said.’ Mr. Johnson decided to run because of that reaction, and in November he won. This week he said, ‘The reason I’m a U.S. senator is because Charlie Sykes did that.’ But the reason Mr. Sykes did it is that Mr. Johnson made a serious speech.”
Don’t discount what you have to say. The people who care want to hear you.