The nation's premier communications expert shares his wisdom on how the words we choose can change the course of business, of politics, and of life in this country
In Words That Work, Luntz offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the tactical use of words and phrases affects what we buy, who we vote for, and even what we believe in. With chapters like "The Ten Rules of Successful Communication" and "The 21 Words and Phrases for the 21st Century," he examines how choosing the right words is essential.
Nobody is in a better position to explain than Frank Luntz: He has used his knowledge of words to help more than two dozen Fortune 500 companies grow. He'll tell us why Rupert Murdoch's six-billion-dollar decision to buy DirectTV was smart because satellite was more cutting edge than "digital cable," and why pharmaceutical companies transitioned their message from "treatment" to "prevention" and "wellness."
If you ever wanted to learn how to talk your way out of a traffic ticket or talk your way into a raise, this book's for you.
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After repeating his mantra-"it's not what you say, it's what people hear"-so often in this book, you'd think that Republican pollster Luntz would have taken his own advice to heart. Yet in spite of an opening anecdote that superficially attempts a balanced tone, the book as a whole truly reads more like a manual for right-wing positioning. Even in the sections where he is less partisan, Luntz's advice is not particularly insightful. For instance, his first chapter, on "Ten Rules of Effective Language," starts by instructing readers to use small words and short sentences in their communications. The least effective section in the book is the chapter on "Personal Language for Personal Scenarios," where Luntz advocates manipulative strategies for getting out of traffic tickets, boarding airplanes at the last minute and apologizing to one's wife with the "miracle elixir" of flowers. The most readable and redeeming feature is the two case studies, where Luntz demonstrates his skill as a communicator by identifying real-world communications successes and failures. Unfortunately, by the time nonpartisan readers reach these chapters, they will have already lost patience. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 01, 2007
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Excerpt from Words That Work by Frank Luntz
Twenty-one Words and Phrases for the Twenty-first Century
"I hope our leaders don't feel like they have to talk to us in monosyllables or break it down to easy-to-understand things. You know, we get smarter by people treating us smarter....You want to be lifted up and told to lead."
This book has examined the development and application of words that work. Now it's time to look ahead to the twenty-one words and phrases that you will be hearing often as we move through these early years of the twenty-first century. Some apply to business, others to politics, but they all define the new American lexicon. I choose these words because I believe they will withstand the test of time.
Based on hundreds of thousands of telephone interviews, hundreds of dial sessions and focus groups, and literally a million research hours, I contend that the words and concepts in this chapter will be as essential and powerful tomorrow as they are today. The words that follow are not superficial, timely, or contingent on the ephemeral circumstances of the moment. These words cut to the heart of Americans' most fundamental beliefs and right to the core values that do not change no matter how we vote or shop, or what delivery devices we use to play music, in the year 2020.
The words in this chapter have eminently practical applications. Consider the following example:
VERIZON BUSINESS: THE PERFECT AD COPY FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
(key words in bold)
"What if you attached an innovative wing structure to some bicycle machinery and launched it from a sand dune? (Black-and-white visuals of early airplane flights)
What if you created a thin piece of plastic that could easily be used just like money--anywhere in the world? (Artistically colorized visuals of money morphing into credit cards)
Suppose we created an IP network so far-reaching and expansive, it can make doing business more efficient around the globe. (Visuals of postmodern buildings interspersed with people working at computers)
Suppose we put your global business network in the hands of world-class professionals. People who know it end-to-end. (Visuals of multi-ethnic business professionals with confident appearances)
Verizon has joined with MCI to form Verizon Business, where global capability meets personal accountability--to make your business more successful--and your life a little easier. (A father showing his young daughter pictures of herself on his computer)
Introducing Verizon Business.
In a single sixty-second spot, Verizon Business managed to incorporate three of the words in this chapter: innovative, efficient, and accountability. These are the words that will sell products and win votes. They will redefine perceptions that need changing and confirm existing ideas that need reinforcing. I have used these words to help more than two dozen Fortune 500 companies grow and thrive, and to aid more than two hundred elected officials in winning or keeping their jobs. These are words that work and that will continue to work. They are the language of America.
WORDS AND PHRASES FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
"Imagine" is one of the most powerful words in the English language. It evokes something different to each person that hears it. Every person has a unique definition of the American Dream that they imagine and someday hope to achieve. The point is that "imagine" leads to 300 million different, personal definitions--and that's just in the United States alone.