Thursday, April 5, 2007

Soundbite Mentality

I've been hearing the word "soundbite" and the phrase "soundbite mentality" used disparagingly. For instance, "That's not thorough. It's just a soundbite." Or, "We really need to get past the soundbite mentality and dig deep into this issue."

As The Soundbite Coach, I'm gritting my teeth and not taking the comments personally.

I agree that there are many issues we all need to go deep on. So many stories need background, sidebars and follow-up. But in our time-starved, information overloaded society, we also need soundbites. They are not a luxury; they are crucial to survival.

Soundbites give us the quick read we need to make a decisions. And that decision may be to get more information.

Soundbites--not in the news sense--but in the real-live sense are used every day.

  • Help me!
  • That guy's about to run into you!
  • Please stop shouting-I have a migraine.
  • The stock's tanked. What are we going to do?

Soundbites used as taglines or slogans build morale. Soundbites used in crisis communicate quickly--just watch "ER." Soundbites in war save lives.

If you've read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, you know that even a seven-second soundbite is an eternity compared to the rapid rate our subconscious is taking in information.

If you haven't read the book, get it. You'll have new respect for soundbites.

And in the news sense, when you can't speak in soundbites, and the editor chops 29 seconds out of your 34-second response, and you look silly on the newscast, call me. I can help.


Ron Rose said...

I understand what you're saying.... but, that's just problem. The marketing people (who ever they are) have become aware of this... and now gear their efforts to that.

It becomes an effort now for me to discern a cry for help versus a blast to buy this pizza.

Lorri Allen said...

Ron, that's why we have to be discerning and not believe everything we hear or read. An educated society craves objective, accurate, fair reporting. The alternative to short soundbites is to get your news from sources that go more in-depth: NPR, PBS, news magazines and some newspapers.