Talk is not cheap Almost 100 years after it was published, the advertising world still reveres "The Penalty of Leadership," a 413-word essay on the glories and trials of excellence that appeared as a Cadillac ad in the Saturday Evening Post. The key idea is that "The reward is widespread recognition; the punishment, fierce denial and detraction," but that one excerpt does little justice to the compelling words of its author, Theodore F. McManus.
You can read the text here. You probably won't. It takes three minutes.
Today, as image and sound become more dominant in communications and attention gets shorter, words become more precious. Yes, Clint Eastwood's "Halftime in America" ad for Chrysler ran through 250 words of narration, but the Super Bowl is one of the few times where America will sit still for two full minutes.
When we at Executive Media began coaching "elevator pitches," we aimed at 90-second messages. Now we know you need to set the hook in about 30 seconds.
That's about 75 words. Short is tough. When a person creates his own message, he or she tends to include material more important to himself than to anyone else. That's why help with perspective is important.