For all the talk about Moore’s Law and the notion that computing power increases unabated, there’s not enough talk about another law that has equal importance in marketing and public relations.
It dictates that over time, all communication becomes steadily truncated.
We’ve gone from looong books (hell, The Iliad is a POEM for chrissakes), to much shorter books. The Harry Potter novels seem downright Dostoyevskyian these days.
We’ve gone from lengthy, hand-written letters, to postcards, to emails, to much shorter emails. Seriously, how many really long emails have you written lately?
Even the phone truncated. How many 60 minute calls are you on any more, other than for business? We still use the phone, but more for email and SMS than for actual voice communication (at least for me).
Media is affected, too. TV segments are much shorter than they used to be, as are newspaper stories, influenced by blog style. I very clearly remember writing three page press releases as a young PR professional. Now, it’s a few bullet points on Pitch Engine.
We’ve gone from thoughtful to concise, and we’ll continue to do so.
Why Is Shorter Inevitable?
There are two reasons for the Law of Boundless Brevity.
First, the number of people we connect with each day forces us to edit our communication. We cannot have fully-formed conversations with dozens of people every day and still have time to write, eat, sleep, drive, play games on our iphone, complain about the housing market, and look at YouTube.
Second, the interconnected nature of communication today makes long-form communication less necessary. When I talk to my friends on the phone, it’s usually a pretty quick conversation. Not because I don’t like my friends, but because they already know much of what’s going on in my life via text message, Twitter, Facebook, email and other short-form missives.
Technology has killed small talk.
As individuals, we know this is true, and we see how it impacts our daily life. Yet as businesspeople, we can do a better job of capitalizing on the Law of Boundless Brevity.
It’s Your Turn to Get Shorty
Understand that the Elevator Pitch is Dead. You remember the elevator pitch. The notion that you should be able to describe what your company does in the length of time consumed by the average elevator ride. I’m here to tell you, that’s way too long these days. Elevator rides seem interminable.
Instead, I humbly suggest that you develop a 120-character pitch for your business. Today. Not the 140-character limit imposed by Twitter, but an even tighter 120 characters to allow for re-tweets, and the inevitable next round of brevity.
I realize that 120 characters sounds like the linguistic equivalent of Gary Coleman, but it’s not as short as it seems.
(in fact, the previous sentence is exactly 119 characters)
Go ahead, try it. Leave your elevator pitch in the comments. Maybe you’ll meet a new friend or customer.
Here’s mine: Social media strategic counsel for mid-sized companies & PR firms. Plus, invigorating social media speeches & training. (119)
EDIT TO ADD: Apparently, Sir Richard Branson is now accepting VC funding pitches by Tweet only. So apparently, there’s something to this concept!
(photo by TexasGurl)