“Write drunk; edit sober.” I recently saw that quote dubiously attributed to Ernest Hemingway on an office poster. Its origins are sketchy, but I believe it contains a solid gold nugget of truth. No, I’m not advising you to drink and draft. I think the blush-worthy combination of Twitter and happy hours has given us quite enough of that! I’m here to advocate for editing—everything.
We are in a quick response era, for certain. Rapid-fire texts and emails are the everyday norm, but something very important often gets lost in instant reaction: strategy. Just as the best ideas often hit us after a meeting, our most thoughtful advice occurs to us after we hit send.
The head of a news organization recently told me that she believes we are past the time when reporters could ruminate on a topic. She’s probably right, but I believe we’re all a little worse off for that reality. Similarly, as PR pros, our clients deserve our best counsel. I don’t know about you, but that rarely comes out of my brain at 11 p.m. following a long day. Feel free to read the email at that hour, maybe even draft a response. But unless it’s truly urgent, sleep on it, review it, and send it in the morning.
When it comes to responding to Twitter and Facebook comments on your firm or client’s brand, start with a deep breath. Consider the long-term impact of your comment and then act accordingly. Get a second opinion from a levelheaded colleague, if possible. Keep your bearings in the face of pressure from the client. In the end, they’ll be grateful and see you as the smart strategist you are.
Sure, the Internet can spiral quickly out of control, but the right, well-edited response could act as a control burn. After all, you’ve planned ahead for a crisis, right?