Geoffrey Stackhouse, Managing Director, Clarity Solutions
Reading commentary on Australia's Senate Inquiry into corporate tax avoidance has been like eating a day-old bagel: it's stiff, dry, and impossible to swallow.
Pity the poor journalists covering the story. They are so starved for anything quotable they've had to rely on variations on ‘Double Irish Sandwiches’ to pad their copy.
But Pascal Saint-Amans, the OECD’s head of taxation, came to the rescue with a gem of a soundbite that is not only strategic and well-structured, it also has great colour that makes it cut through.
“Countries are sovereign. What's agreed to at the OECD is morally binding. It is not legally binding. That doesn't mean we don't have teeth. We are having an impact. Given countries had committed to implement the plan, there was an expectation from the international community that they meet their commitment”.
That’s pretty sexy for an accountant turned bureaucrat. He delivered a strong view that showed OECD was relevant with just a hint of menace.
The simple and colourful language ensured it would be used by reporters and it helped influence the debate.
But it would have been better if he had tightened it into a "tweetable" insight by packing his punch into 140 characters or less. Shedding the verbal padding would make it even more attractive, hit broadcast media, and make it a hot Tweet as well.
Reporters rely on Twitter as a key news source. That's why tweeting strong, clear and colourful insight puts you on their radar and flags you as a ‘go to’ source for comment.
It's also the sort of thing key opinion leaders want to share with their followers. And the followers will surely retweet it.
Next time Pascale, why not try this:
"OECD agreements are morally binding. The international community expects sovereign countries to honour their agreements. We are not without teeth."
Even if you softened it by swapping the teeth image with words like success or impact it would still do the job.
Want to make your insights cut through in 140 characters or less?
1. Nail the impact – state what’s at risk and why it matters
2. Use simple words but add sparkle to grab attention
3. Picture it on a billboard or a headline – and keep cutting until you hit 140 characters.