“It’s Not What You Say…

…it’s what people hear.”

So says language expert Frank Luntz, author of  Words that Work.

When you are writing to persuade, the words you choose will profoundly affect the way your listener or reader reacts to your message.This phenomenon has applications in advertising — and in politics.

Luntz recently wrote a memo to Republican members of Congress called “The Language of Health Care”.

In a recent New York Times interview, Deborah Solomon asked, “You have devised many phrases to help sell Republican policies to the public. Like “energy exploration” instead of “drilling for oil” in the Arctic. What are some of your other coinages?

Luntz’ response:

It’s “death tax” instead of “estate tax” or “inheritance tax.” It’s “opportunity scholarships” instead of “vouchers.” It’s “electronic intercepts” rather than “eavesdropping.”

A 60-second radio commercial consists of approximately 180 words. You are paying by the word — make sure that every word brings you closer to a sale.

If you’re not confident in your ability to do this, hire an experienced professional copywriter. It may be the best money you’ll spend.


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One thought on ““It’s Not What You Say…

  1. Phil, great article for radio folks – applicable not only to the commercials we write, but also to the myriad other communications emanating from the station (advertising packages, promotional pieces, letters, memos, business correspondence, website…everything, really).

    I can hear Barry Farber’s voice in the back of my mind (his opening line in a Verbal Advantage ad, if I recall correctly)…”People do judge you by the words you use.”

    It’s true. For better or worse.