How Many Times Do You Have to Say It

January 09, 2011

How Many Times Do You Have to Say It

My ears perked up when I read this sentence in a New York Times oped by Frank Rich today. The column was about how Obama could take some lessons from the late President Reagan. Rich wrote: “His White House spokesman, Larry Speakes, was only half-joking when he deflected critics with the old saw ‘if you tell the same story five times, it’s true.'” I think the same is true with the Internet today. If you search and see the same story online five times, it’s true. Of course, a rumor can be repeated in several places and now lives forever.  I just wonder if the magic number online is five times, one time or ten times in terms of making something believable and unforgettable. Hard to know in this day and age. All I know is that it is harder than ever to get your message heard but if it is negative, you have a greater chance to be listened to.
My ears perked up a second time as well. I was thinking about how the horrific events in Tucson, Arizona are being discussed in terms of the growing incivility in this nation. As you know, a man killed six people, injured more and shot U.S. representative Gabrielle Giffords in the head. We conducted a survey last spring on the topic of civility in this nation. After reviewing the results then, I thought to myself that there was no turning back to the good old days.  A vast sizeable 72% said that civility has worsened over the past few years. Although this killing rampage was not caused by out-of-control political rhetoric but by the hand of a disturbed individual , it does make one think about how divisive our public square has become. Let’s see if the heated dialogue we have become accustomed to simmers down for good or just a little bit.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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