Monthly Archives: May 2009

Economy of Words

I heard a story this morning on NPR in which listeners had been invited to submit recession-inspired haikus.  Some were heartbreaking; others darkly hilarious. All in seventeen syllables. It got me thinking about the economy of words — and how the best speechwriters make every sentence as meaningful and muscular as possible, given the limited […]

Good communicators use empathy

Below, you will see the guest post from Philip Murphy, communications chief of a Fortune 100 company.  I don’t know Mr. Murphy, and I am not sure I remember which company employs him, but I heartily endorse what he has to say. Writing well requires clarity of thought.  Expressing thoughts clearly, working through their implications […]

Start Binging June 3rd

In the headline, “binging” should be read to rhyme with “ringing,” not “cringing” – as in, making use of Microsoft’s new competitor to Google. It debuts next Wednesday (for some reason). Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer told the Wall Street Journal that Bing was chosen as the name for the new search engine because it “works globally […]

Obama’s Conservative Case for Sotomayor

Today, in nominating Circuit Court judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court, President Obama discussed a few qualities he seeks in a justice. The “first and foremost” — a rigorous intellect — is obvious. The third — “a common touch and sense of compassion” — has been a key messaging point […]

The “People Side”

One of the challenges speechwriters confront is capturing our clients’ voice — at an immediate level, meaning writing in a way that sounds like the client at hand, but also at a meta-level:  writing the way real people really talk, and about the things real people really care about. In that regard, I was struck […]

What Were They Thinking?

I had a seat in the audience yesterday for former Vice President Richard Cheney’s speech on the threat to the United States of terrorism, on methods used to interrogate captured terrorists during the Bush years and on the Obama Administration’s release of documents detailing those methods.  It was at the American Enterprise Institute here in […]

GM Bondholders Lead PR Blitz

You may recall that President Obama recently referred to certain Chrysler creditors as “speculators” because they expected more for their investment in the troubled automaker than the 29 cents on the dollar the Administration was offering. Most of those creditors have since given up their legitimate claims, rather than face continued tongue-lashings from the president. […]

The Message Is The Message

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is by Philip Murphy, a corporate communications executive at a Fortune 100 company. Good news for English majors. Richard Anderson, chief executive of Delta Air Lines, gave an interview for the New York Times’ Corner Office column recently and said what most of us have felt deep inside – the […]

Al Gore’s “Bellyaching” Ad

As ads go, they don’t come any slicker than this.  An actor who looks like everyone’s country uncle looks up from his morning paper and coffee and says, “I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of the Big Oil companies always bellyaching we can’t afford clean energy.”  He then goes on to hit […]

Politico: Meet Ben Rhodes

Politico‘s speechwriter correspondent, Carol Lee, profiles one of the non-celebrity members of President Obama’s speechwriting staff, foreign policy wordsmith Ben Rhodes. For those of us looking to pin blame for the president’s European and Latin American remarks on Mr. Rhodes, not so fast: Some Republicans said the president’s Europe speeches showed he was there on […]

Conservatives Aghast at Obama Laughs

What’s with conservatives getting all bent out of shape over humor? Last week, after Wanda Sykes told a few Rush Limbaugh jokes at the White House Correspondents Association dinner, several commentators on the right tut-tutted. “He needs a good waterboarding,” she said, and she claimed “I think he was the twentieth hijacker. But he was […]

China’s Chutzpah

Last week, it leaked out that GM is looking to sell Chinese cars in America.  Today’s Washington Post headline pretty much sums up the dismal state of affairs, “As Detroit Crumbles, China Emerges as Auto Epicenter.” The Post quoted a China-booster as saying, “When we look back 20 years from now, the year 2009 is likely to be […]

Tell It Like It Is

Stories of incredulity, anger, and dismay are rolling in from around the country as Chrysler dealers open up the UPS envelope that tells them whether or not they’ll still be part of the dealer family. Without getting into the rightness or wrongness of the need to shrink the number of dealerships, I’ve been struck by […]

GM to Import Chinese Cars?

AP relates that  Chinese media is reporting that GM plans to begin exporting vehicles from China to the U.S. within two years, ramping up sales to more than 50,000 by 2014.  The lack of public and political preparation for this major move by GM is somewhat stunning . . . and somewhat in character for […]

Welcome Ashley!

One of the most powerful communication moments during the presidential campaign was when then-candidate Barack Obama, in his extraordinary speech on race relations, told the story of Ashley Baia, a young volunteer who had gotten involved in the Obama campaign because of her experience as a little girl, when she ate mustard and relish sandwiches […]