January 25, 2007
News & Opinion: Speaking of the State of the Union...
Tuesday, I ran across a review in the WSJ [paid subscription required] of Dr. Frank Luntz's Words that Work. The reviewer, Clark Judge was part of the speechwriting staff under President Reagan.
Reagan's State of the Union address was the first to be polled by pulse testing (a.k.a. dial testing). Here's what happened:
Forty or 50 randomly selected voters had been assembled to watch the State of the Union address. Each was given an electronic response device. Twisting the dial to zero meant that the listener hated what was being said and 10 that he couldn't get enough of it, with the numbers in between registering gradations of response. Results were averaged and appeared as a temperature chart line over a linear printout of the text.
That's now a regular practice. When a part of any speech receives a "twist" of 10, that piece is used over and over again in a number of marketing campaigns. Author Frank Luntz deemed these parts as "words that work." He's the man renowned for giving the Republican party a number of key terms (from "estate tax" to his "death tax"). You may also know him in his role as an adviser to Ross Perot during the 1992 election and Newt Gingrich's success in House in the 1994 elections.
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If you're curious for more, check out an excerpt.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.