The Power of 26 – It’s Only Words

It took only those three words to enhance the worldwide reputation of the musical trio – The Bee Gees and their monster hit of the same title, It’s Only Words which was released in 1968.

In their recollections years later, it was revealed this tender song actually evolved out of an argument one of the Gibb brothers had had that same day. By their own admission, the Words had the power to make you feel happy or sad.

We work feverishly to compress our thoughts, feelings, actions, and plans snippets or sound bites so they can be hurried along. The warmth of heartfelt sentiment becomes intertwined with the pulse pounding drive of action words so that emotions become a blur and all that matters is speed.

More recently it seems that it matters little if the content is solid, just as long as you got the message out first.

Everyone likes to be first. In Sports. Business. Academics. Popularity. Sales. Music. Arts. Medicine. A Foot Race. A Car Race. Few people remember, or care, who was in second place.  First place is the target destination.  But we implore you to do so carefully and properly and fairly.

A story which has grounded me for 30 years involves a young newspaper ‘typesetter’.

Long before digital technology, the Typesetter’s job was to insert the metal letters of the alphabet into the printing press to allow the ads and news stories to be printed. On this notable occasion, a major advertiser was offering a 50% sale on some of their men’s clothing.  Being a time sensitive ad, things were hurried along to make sure they could make the next morning’s edition of the paper.  The advertiser received more attention than they bargained for when the full page ad appeared. Very proudly the full page ad screamed a 50% savings on men’s clothing.  However, the typesetter in his haste, mistakenly left out the letter ‘r’ when posting 50% sale on  ‘men’s shirts’.

They were certainly first off the mark and made it to the newspaper’s deadline.

Considering what their haste cost the advertiser and the newspaper, it may have been better fortune for them to make sure the spelling was accurate.

For better or worse, once your words are ‘out there’, – especially in this lightning quick technology- their message is being delivered for every eyeball which absorbs it.
Take the time to construct messages you can be proud of. No matter how long or
short the passage, your Words should stand tall, even when speaking small.

Reputations, legacies, recommendations, disparaging comments  and effusive praise
all hinge on using the words correctly. One hopes and trusts the writer’s full intent is
completely conveyed and received in the spirit in which it was intended.

On this occasion, I will suggest that unlike The Bee Gees emotional resignation
that It’s Only Words, on the contrary, It Is The Words.

Dennis Kelly


The Power of 26 – Brevity

We live in an accelerated world.

A breakneck pace each day.

Deadlines galore.

Pressure builds.

Be better. Stronger. Faster. – NOW. We are racing to outperform the Six Million Dollar
portrayed by actor Lee Majors, in the 1980’s.

To accomplish such astounding feats, we find ourselves shortening everything. 

Long flowing eloquent correspondence, replete with smart descriptive informative
sales copy gives way to ROTFLMAO, or other equally muted descriptions which
pass for communication.

Brevity communicates volumes without writing them. We live in an age of unmatched
speed for delivering our thoughts. Our trade for this speed is the necessity to trim
everything to initials.
Text messaging it seems lives and dies by a race to shorten words to letters or symbols. 
The speed demand is insatiable.

Genuinely I applaud and respect those few who master brevity and clarity in one blow.

In a recent blog, I commented on the power of immortal words such as those conveyed by
Mr. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. A mere 272 words, he moved a nation for generations.

I think even his extraordinary writing talents would be hard pressed to fit that into
a 140 Character tweet.

Certainly I recognize not all of us are imbued with writing talents.  By his own admission,
prolific writer Edgar Allan Poe confessed that ‘writing is slavery’, in his ongoing quest that
every syllable be exact. Every nuance of his writing be noted. 

Few of us now have the time or inclination to devote ourselves to such noble endeavours as
improving our communication.

Equally I acknowledge that not all short messages are good. Or correct. Or engaging.

On the flip side, a story well told will engage the reader regardless of length.

Many of the most prolific authors would disdain a word limit if it compromised the
character development. 

I exhort you please, to take full advantage of the 26 letters and use them well.
If you can be crisp, engaging, brilliant, relevant, specific in 10 words, you won’t need 100.

Be certain your reader understands fully your intent or your brevity has just compromised
the time you saved.

We have the most incredible tool and force at our fingertips each day. The Power of Words.

And we diminish them for the sake of speed. Such a travesty.

The words we live by are our culture, our lifestyle and for some, our livelihood in multiple formats.
To see them reduced to initials and phonetics does such an injustice to the force they hold and
the dynamism they spread.

Readers, please understand, from the outset, I applaud those who can tighten the alphabet
to turn novels into paragraphs. Corporate mission statements into memorable taglines.

Convey the essence of a product or service to a few words.
Those are the gems. The ones that remain with us.

My career to date has seen me the composer of several ads, but more often the custodian
of their placement. Computer products in newspaper and radio ads. Financial and travel
service ads on TV for 30 or even 15 seconds. Outdoor posters with few words and a seven
second viewing span.  The placement of all these has enhanced my appreciation for the
talent which transforms a seven page creative brief into 3 or 4 words.

That brevity is brilliance. The distillation of a hundred pages of attributes.

Reams of pages about the technology embedded in a product.

All that, condensed to a memorable message, is the power of Brevity.

The Power of 26.

Dennis Kelly


The Power of 26 – Words Are Immortal

Will you live forever?

The craftsmen who spin 26 letters, in every language, have made their presence
felt in life and from the beyond.

Thousands, indeed hundreds of thousands have come and gone before us and
their legacy is the messages they have left for successors to follow and enjoy,
or learn from.

In one of the most powerful and best remembered speeches of his distinguished Presidency,
Mr. Abraham Lincoln galvanized a new nation with his historic Gettysburg Address.
Delivered at the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg on November 19th, 1863,
President Lincoln’s speech opened with the now iconic ‘ Four score and seven years ago ……..

His delivery of his ‘remarks’ took three minutes, to a crowd of over 15,000 attendees.

Incredibly his speech was a mere 272 words, in three paragraphs.

His words, so thoughtful, powerful, and polished resonated so deeply with the audience,
that he was interrupted five times for applause during his speech.

In a truly ironic note, Mr. Lincoln crafted a line which stands the test of time where he says

‘The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here….’

At this writing, 2013, it will mark 150 years since Mr. Lincoln delivered this masterpiece
of dedication and inspiration. Will any of your writings survive seven or eight generations
and live on in perpetuity?

In no particular order, a few other well chosen words have lived on, including:

‘That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind’-
Mr. Armstrong- July 1969 -Moon Landing

‘ Free At Last, Free At Last- Thank God Almighty, We are Free at Last.’-
August 28th, 1963 – Dr, Martin Luther King Jr.- I Have A Dream speech.

‘In The Beginning Was the Word.’ The Gospel of John, Opening line of Chapter 1. Verse 1

I present these as reminders, and touchstones that those 26 letters have infinite power.
Guided by the talents, musings and expertise of the storyteller on the other end of the
pen, your words can catapult your ideas beyond space and time.

Or they may simply languish in sloppy correspondence if you treat them with disdain.
A practice we witness all to often it appears.

My good fortune in my role of ad placement has allowed me to witness early stages,
and final delivery of some excellent ads and ideas. Sadly, some less glamorous efforts
as well. Ads best remembered speak volumes, without that much writing.

Where to use your words?Whether you choose to advertise on Radio. In Newspapers.
Perhaps On-line sites. On Television. In Outdoor media. Through Magazines, it all
comes back to those same letters of the alphabet.

I have little to do with the composition of the ads you see. But I have everything to
do with you being able to see it.
Thus it is in my interests to know what’s being written. It helps having a sense of
creative direction so media recommendations can best showcase the creative.

Choose your words carefully. In sales. In affection. Select them well.
As we see from Mr. Lincoln and others, you may live forever with the Power of 26.

Dennis Kelly


The Power of 26

August 1st, 2013 ….our Blogging Baptism

Welcome to The Spike of Angels

Today we enjoy unprecedented Media Options.

Communication methodologies which would have astounded our grandparents and even our parents is today, incredibly commonplace. Technology now allows us profile around the globe within heartbeats.

We can send and receive pictures of family and friends faster than it takes to dial a rotary phone ( I hope some readers remember what those are!).

There is no longer any question about media changing. It evolves as we demand it to.

The most startling revolution is how we consume it.  The digital age has ushered in unparalleled options. You never have to leave your home or office and yet still see the world on your desk, laptop, handheld device wherever and whenever you wish.

How extraordinary we have morphed, evolved, and transformed to become a 24/7 global community with an expectation of instant service and responses simply because we can.

Recently an important message was being relayed to me from Texas, USA to Toronto, Canada.  The sender had no sooner hit send when the message appeared on my computer screen.  And in the heartbeats it took for her message to travel over 1,580 miles (or 2,500 kilometres), she stayed on the phone with me as part of her job. Thankfully customer service was not lost simply because of the immediacy of the Internet.

However more capable we have become at sending and receiving information, we still need and crave and cling to those opportunities which make us feel connected to other people.  Human contact never goes out of style. Thankfully.

Double Edged Sword?

The Internet has been deemed a panacea for a multitude of ills it seems.

While it undeniably creates more contacts, connections, likes, tweets, recommends, and friends, it simultaneously makes us grow more and more distant.

As a communications vehicle, it opened, and continues to open, new dimensions of linking and targeting which no other media, or multiple media could hope to replicate.

In the same breath it brings new challenges of policing and marketing that were never imagined decades ago.

The blinding speed at which we communicate is impressive on the low end and mind boggling on the other end of the spectrum. Text and data, graphics and pictures are literally available with a click.

Yet for all this accelerated delivery of our messages, I implore you – do not lose sight that it all comes back to the Power of 26.

The fundamental ABC’s which became A to Z remain the cornerstone of this and every other message. All the joy, sorrow, compassion, exuberance that we send to family and friends. All the overtures and offers and pitches we make to coworkers, clients, old clients, new clients, prospective clients and countless unknown eyes, they will learn your thoughts by reading your words.

Choose your words with great care. They are the deliverer of your thoughts. The means by which we comfort a loved one. Rile an employer. Sustain your friendships. Win you new business. Maybe lose you existing business. Spark rivalries and initiate wars. And they can deliver healing and be peacemakers.

My role as a media planner and buyer is all the more enhanced by the diverse sales pitches which cross my radar. Some so exquisite and well crafted, the writer could sell ice to Eskimos. Others for equally compelling opportunities, fall flat because the salesmanship is limp.

Therein is the muscle in your messages.  You want your reader to immediately see the benefits they’ll enjoy by using your media.

Then say that. Creatively. Deliver it with impact and panache.

You want to sell. Maybe I want to buy. Whichever media you choose to deliver that message to me – newspapers, radio, television, outdoor, on-line, direct mail- you still come back to the same starting line of 26 letters.

Those same 26 letters are available to everyone.  Squeeze every ounce of salesmanship out of each word you choose. Everyone loves a good story. Become a good storyteller. Regardless of the media you choose, remember, it all starts with the Power of 26.

Dennis Kelly