Would The Healthcare Plan Have Less of a PR Problem if it were a Tweet?

March 22, 2010

This is not a politically motivated post, but I do want to chat about the healthcare bill and something odd that I’ve noticed over the past few months. I’m not thinking about the right vs. the left, who will end-up paying for this, do we need it or not, co-pays, medicare, Swine flu shots, abortion, diabetes, obesity, STD prevention, or medical marijuana (but who could be against that?). No my focus simply is on all of the talk about the size of the bill – the page count. When did this become a divisive issue? And has our collective attention span shrunk to the point of where we argue the merits of something based on how big it is. After all, didn’t we invent “bigger is better”?

Unless you’ve tuned out the past few months, or especially the last few days, you’ve likely heard the folks who oppose the Obama healthcare bill rant about the page count – something like 2000 pages or more. I’m curious if this truly a concern or just a way to simply pick-apart legislation and scare many unenlightened Americans? Yesterday on CNN I saw the classic shot of the diner somewhere in middle-America with folks eating hash-browns and bacon on a Sunday morning talking about how “We don’t need no 2000 page healthcare plan.” Hmmm – but these are the same folks who like buffets – interesting.

My brother loves to tell stories with all sorts of color and background information; the windup before the pitch. Often I’ll say “Mike – land the plane” – in other words – get to the point. I know my attention span is not what it once was and I suspect I have technology to blame. Everyone is in a hurry – there never is enough time – so exercising brevity is a must. But when it comes to something as important as healthcare for America, does the size of the bill matter? Shouldn’t the focus be on the content? I’m curious if Jacob Shallus, the person who actually scribed The Constitution of the United States over a weekend thought about the length of the document and wished it was shorter, or if Roosevelt was aware of the page-count of The New Deal? Likely not – nor should they have been. So why now do we obsess about the length of a bill vs the content, and its ability to create change?

What does this have to do with PR? Everything. The incredible shrinking attention span is not limited to what happens in D.C. it’s an issue everywhere including in PR. Most reporters don’t want phone calls and when you do call, their voice-mail instructs you to NOT leave a message. Now more and more reporters don’t want pitches via email, but through Twitter. Traditional press releases are on life-support; if you can’t say it in 140 characters, too bad. So what’s next? Word rationing? Will there come a time when each of us will be limited to 500 words per day – like a calorie count of sorts? Well if so I’m over my daily limit already, so I best land the plane. Just my two-cents, I mean my $0.02.

Howie

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