June 18, 2022
TONE IT DOWN, PLZ!!!
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The Big Story, Pt. 1: New CNN boss has a message for staffers: Cool it with the ‘Breaking News’ banner
The Big Story, Pt. 2: The Age of Emotional Overstatement
What it Means for Us
Like you, we are are hyper-focused on healthcare providers. But today’s thoughts apply to us not just as professionals but as people, living life. Actually, it’s more applicable to us as people because, after all, shouting and high-decibel hyperbole aren’t exactly characteristics of our healthcare provider clients. In fact, we’re encouraging them to wade deeply into some big, important conversations – Roe v. Wade, gun violence, even the value and definition of healthcare today. With the right tone, of course.
Can we say the same for our own communications? For our media and social media output and consumption?
Earlier this year, FiveThirtyEight published poll numbers showing that 72 percent of Americans think “It would be ‘good for the country’ if there was less political hostility and people focused more on common ground.’” Sadly, only about four in 10 said they had hope of that happening.
Meanwhile, we are stressed, exhausted – and have had it up to here with the amount of news, noise and exclamation points being thrown our way. Safe to say those numbers haven’t gotten any better in the past two years.
As communicators, we at Jarrard are fully invested in the power of words and the importance of an emotional appeal. That includes a responsibility to use words carefully. In that spirit, Licht’s move is subtle, yet bold. Operationally, cutting back on the breaking news banner is a minor change. Yet, it signals recognition of a problem that needs to be addressed. It’s a laudable step in using calibrated language to help viewers put information in better context.
We are also adamant that words can’t cover for actions. A hospital says its mission is to care for the vulnerable, but an activist reporter uncovers stacks of lawsuits against poor patients for unpaid bills. We post about how great our neighbors are but leave our dog’s 💩 in their yard. Flowery marketing materials or confetti emojis on Facebook don’t cover these things.
We must tell the story, but we must do the work that demonstrates the truth of the story. As Caitlin Macy writes in her WSJ piece, “Real love, one knew instinctively, could not be claimed so quickly, because it’s a form of service, not lip service.” And, “Companies, too, as we are continually reminded, are passionate—about client service, retirement portfolios, lawn care. Never mind that what’s actually wanted is competence.” It’s about doing the thing, not just talking about it.
So, maybe, we should stop yelling quite so much – even for joy. 😎👍