Winston Churchill – a Twitter natural?

publication date: Nov 23, 2011
author/source: Janet Gadeski
Twitter won a parliamentary seal of approval in October as the British House of Commons voted down a motion that would have restricted the use of electronic devices to "receive and send urgent messages, as a substitute for paper speaking notes and to refer to documents for use in debates." The motion would have ruled out accessing social media.Janet Gadeski photo

MP Kevin Brennan may have helped carry the day when he pointed out that Winston Churchill's famous statement, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few," would fit nicely into Twitter's 140-character limit with quite a few left over.

"There is nothing new in political communication in trying to get a message across in a pithy, memorable way, as Twitter enables us to do," he claimed.

Short enough to remember

Pithy, memorable messages - just what we want as fundraisers. In our accelerated world, even an elevator speech may be too long to remain in the brain. Every day, thousands of messages stream towards your donors, in every medium, from every conceivable source. You may be retreating as far as you can from the whole notion of Twitter, but you have to admit that conciseness will lift your messages above that torrent.

What would happen to your "memorability index" if you took every one of your key messages and reduced it to a tweet? If you think your cause is more complex than Churchill's, your work too multi-faceted or your campaign too nuanced, consider these other high-impact, low-word-count messages.
  • The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation - Pierre Trudeau (57 characters)
  • We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future - Franklin Roosevelt (92 characters)
  • Nothing stops a bullet like a job - Homeboy Industries (35 characters)
  • I love you (12 characters)
Whether you tweet or not, 140 characters gives you all the leeway you need for a succinct message that's easy to remember.

Short is vital, but not enough

Of course, a concise tweet is only the beginning and even the most memorable tweet on its own isn't enough to make you a trending topic for more than a day. Action, engagement and case explanation all require more than that. How do we build our youth for the future? How do we create those jobs that stop bullets?

But even those in-depth explanations and appeals are more powerful with the occasional short, memorable - and tweetable - statement.

Thanks to Ronn Levine of the Specialized Information Publishers Association for the Roosevelt quotation.

Contact Janet; follow her on Twitter.

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