« CENTURY 21 moves TV ad spend to online: Bev Thorne, CMO, tell us why | Main | Film producer builds pre-release buzz by making soundtrack available for free download »

January 20, 2009


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Inclusive Language Ratio comparing first Obama presidential address with last from Bush:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


cool analysis and so timely. Would be interesting to do this for each of Bush's inaugural addresses, and see if the result is the same...


All good, but most inclusive language wasn't only from President Obama. I liked Rev Lowery's remarks at the end of his benediction:
That day when black will not be asked to get back
The brown will stick around
The Yella will be Mella
The Red Man will get Ahead Man
The White will embrace what is right

Matthew Gowan

I can understand the theory behind the practice but I think you're in the midst of an apples-and-oranges comparison.

I would think your study would be more relevent if you had used one (of the two) President Bush inauguration speeches. I would really like to see a comparison of those.

Tracy Renee Byrne

Well, strictly from a marketing perspective, yes, it's very interesting. Obama is a writer and wrote most of his speach himself. Seem's he's also a better marketer than Bush. The real question will be ... is he Action based, meaning, will there be follow-up action to a very inspirational speach?

No matter how wonderful the speach or marketing message, what are the actionable items that follow up the words? "I'm the best graphic designer," ok, prove it. "I will send you a free sample of my product," ok, where is it? "My services will improve your ROI by x%," great, show me dah money.

I am sorry but I don't agree with daliwied's comment about the closing benediction. I found those comments derrogatory and had he been a white minister, for a white president (or put it into business/marketing terms ... how would corporate america have reacted to any sort of reference to race in marketing collateral?), wow would the news be raking the new administration over the coals.

I think from a marketing perspective, those comments were actually quite negative and deflating to the previous great message and I felt they detracted from the positive, upbeat, hopeful and inspirational speach of the President that preceeded it, especially since it was the closing comments of the presentation. I find those are what I'm left with, not the positive message that was the main point and intention.

It is my feeling that no matter a person's race, especially in marketing or public speaking, you should never make such sterotyped classifications. I think we, all of us, need to stay far away from that both in politics and business. It shows still a clear racial tension/issue that I just really wish was not there at all.


These speeches serve two different functions and therefore should not be held to the same standard. It would be more instructive to compare the two men's inaugural addresses.


This would only be a fair comparison if you examined Bush's 2000 Inauguration speech with Obama's.

Of course an outgoing speech is going to be more introspective compared to an in-coming speech.


I cannot agree more, actually I wrote a similar post weeks ago


Frontier Blog

Bill Royce

Actually, a more relevant comparison that Bush's inaugural might be his Congressional address following 9/11. That was a similar moment in time. Like Obama yesterday, Bush was seeking to unite the nation at a difficult time, focus on new and challenging priorities, but also reach out to the international community on a platform of common cause (with the obvious exception of the 'axis of evil' trifecta).

Barbara Bix

Great post David! Politics aside, your original post reiterates an important message that we all need to keep top of mind.

As someone who continually edits email before sending to use more inclusive language, the skill you discuss does not come easily.

It would be great if there was a tool that automatically checked websites, and other sales collateral, for inclusive language. Of course, the "search" would be for YOU (the customer/client) rather than "we" in that case.

It probably wouldn't turnaround the economy but it would be a step in the right direction :-)

Richard Randolph

Thoughtful analysis. As a college teacher of Business Writing in the '90s, I used to preach the "YOU" attitude, and used the "Reader Interest Index" to measure it. Simply subtract the first-person references (I, me, my, etc.) from the second-person references (you, your, etc.). A positive number was good, a negative number was bad. This simple scoring tool helped the writer determine whether the message was constructed from the Me-First point of view or from the receiver's "WIIFM" (What's In It For Me?) perspective. We found this to be a very useful and beneficial analysis for any form of message.

Richard Randolph
Florida Customer Service Institute

Michael A Stelzner

Great critique, but you and I both know that professional speech writers are hired to pen these things and the presidents are simply reading scripts.

Jerry Bullard

Having read books by White House speechwriters David Gergen and Peggy Noonan and Chris Matthews I agree with both your comments on the speeches and that there are definitely business lessons to be learned from Presidential politics. Infact I downloaded an audiobook yesterday & am waiting for the hard copy of the book called, "Barack, Inc. Winning Business Lessons from the Obama Campaign" by Barry Lilbert & Rick Faulk.


Glad you did the second analysis, as suspected, your premise did not change. I think you've hit on something that as marketers we can measure, or even use this ratio as something to coach junior members with in their external writing and pitches.

nick morgan

This is a great post, full of insight for both political writers and marketers. The complaints about the fairness of comparison truly miss the point. For both politicians and marketers, every time you've got the public's ear is an opportunity to communicate to them, about their issues and concerns, not talk about yourself. I blogged about Obama's inclusive language during the campaign (http://publicwords.typepad.com/nickmorgan/). His focus on his audience worked well for him then and it will work well for him in the months to come. Bush's focus on himself (leaving politics aside) served him poorly during his 8 years in office and will make him a forgotten president now that he is out of office.

Lisa McGrath

David this was a great post, I loved it! And being down in DC Tuesday ... it was DEFINITELY an atmosphere of inclusion. Everyone loved everyone ... it was quite inspirational.

Lauren Vargas

Thank you for this analysis...great to use when trying to explain that "my" and "we" are OK to use and shy away from broadcast messaging.

Joel "Cheaters Guide to Internet Marketing" G.

I know that Obama is more about what he can do for his country vs. what we need to do for our country. Great analysis! I love that fact that you just pointed out how Obama uses an unselfish language.

The comments to this entry are closed.


Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

follow me

David Meerman Scott books

I want to speak at your next event!


David Meerman Scott e-books

David's iPhone and iPad apps

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 12/2004