Back in Churchill’s day, the black and white 1930’s and 40’s, radio was the Internet. It was a new medium, taking the world by storm, and all kinds of people were making it up as they went along, trying to figure out how to use it for commerce, politics, art and entertainment. Fortunes were made (Bill Paley at CBS comes to mind), minds were altered. It was a force to be reckoned with. When war started, radio became serious. And here’s where we take a page from Churchill. He used words to cut through all the confusion. Words.
But not just any words — the right words, in the right places of a sentence, at just the right time. He couldn’t mess around. Business as usual wasn’t going to cut it. Or cut through.
Let’s just look at one example. Let’s take a trip in Jay Ward’s “Way Back Machine” (look it up, you won’t be disappointed.) You’re England. You’re losing the war. You’re getting pounded. By a kind of miracle, your airforce managed to stave off the enemy. The one bright light. If you’re Churchill, you’ve got to capitalize on this. You’ve got to make some hay while this brief glimmer of light shines.
So, you get on the radio, to a scared, frightened, skeptical nation, and, clearing your throat, you say:
“At a historic moment like this, let us all take a pause and reflect on bestowing the honor and accolades onto the brave and heroic men of our armed forces who rose to the task at hand and without any hesitation flew into the strong headwinds of history and boldly defending the honor of our nation delivered to us a victory that we can all be proud of!”
Wow! Amazing! Especially if you pronounce that message with bold, strong, smooth and measured cadences.
Churchill could have delivered that speech, the sentiments were correct, and you know what would have happened? People would have probably fallen asleep. Even such august sentiments, at such a time. No, instead, smart, cunning Winston Churchill, used the Internet, errr…The Radio, to its full power. Instead of that claptrap above, what he really said was:
“Never have so many owed so much to so few.”
Or, in today’s parlance, he ‘killed.’ Oh, and, lest I need remind you, England ended up winning the war.
He didn’t change the message. He didn’t change the medium. He changed the hearts.
Just by using words — available on the Internet too.
He should have started a dot com!