6 March 2009

Brown’s ‘poetry’ heads up news of his speech to Congress

The previous post highlighted the frequency with which Gordon Brown used 'poetic' devices, like alliteration and imagery, in his speech to the US Congress earlier this week.

When it comes to getting key messages across, the advantage of using these and other rhetorical techniques is that they are they much more likely to be noticed (and perhaps even remembered) by the audience than if the same point had been made in a more bland or mundane way.

I first discussed how the way a message is packaged in a speech can affect its chances of reaching a wider audience in my book Our Masters' Voices (1984), using examples from speeches by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and other leading politicians of the day.

Luckily for politicians, then and now, their audiences also include the media, whose reporters and editors react in much the same way as any other member of an audience, and are therefore likely to turn similar lines into prime-time soundbites.

A nice example of this came from the top of Sky News reports of Mr Brown’s speech to Congress, which opened by quoting his most-repeated alliterative phrase and one of his more powerful metaphors:

video

1 comment:

Martin Le Poidevin said...

I think part of the point is that a good phrase also makes life easier for the media (I know, I'm one of them) - the Sky News script writers didn't have to create any new copy for that report - and that very much increases your chances of being reported and, I imagine, moving up the menu on the newscast.