Crafting words that live forever

Staying up to watch Barack Obama’s inauguration, I was amused to see one PR consultant ask in the feed about who wrote his speech. Yes, it was a fine speech. Read it at, and I’m sure you’d agree.

What has always irked me in my past life as a journalist was poorly written speeches.

I wondered often who wrote them. Did they ever think that with each flubbed speech was a missed opportunity? Did anyone ever tutor them to write a speech properly, to understand the beauty and finesse afforded with finely crafted rhetoric?

Sadly, I doubt it.

Speechwriting is an art. It is the one chance for someone in public relations to write copy that might just stand the test of time, to compose prose the equivalent of a poet’s rhymes.

“Why should I bother spending so much effort for a speech for some product launch?”

Because every speech matters. Once you get used to writing mediocre speeches, it’s a habit that’s hard to break. But in Obama’s case, his speechwriter knew that this was his one chance for immortality. Quotes, as every politician knows, have a habit of sticking around. Forever.

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