The Wit and PR Wisdom of Mark Twain

by PR Coach on October 13, 2013

Mark Twain's wit and PR wisdom

Mark Twain the PR pro?

Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) is one of America’s favorite writers and humorists. Born in Florida, Missouri two weeks after the appearance of Hailey’s Comet in 1835, he would have made the consummate PR pro.

As a journalist, writer and speaker, he embodied some of the skills of the best writers and PR pros today. I wonder what he would have thought of PR and social media?

I know I would’ve liked having a beer Mark Twain. His wit, humor and insight into people were brilliant and he could cut inflated egos down to size with a humorous aside in an instant.

Mark Twain and public relationsFor example: “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”

We could use a little more of that wit and wisdom in our everyday lives.

I’ve gathered 27 of Mark Twain’s best quotes and applied them to the PR profession. I hope you enjoy them. They’re perfect for reading with a weekend cup of coffee.

  1. Crisis management:  “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”
  2. Media training: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
  3. Media relations: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
  4. Reputation management: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”
  5. Marketing: “All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.”
  6. Corporate social responsibility: “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”
  7. Public speaking: “All generalizations are false, including this one.”
  8. Public affairs: “There is no distinctly American criminal class – except Congress.”
  9. Crisis PR: “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”
  10. Market research:  “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”
  11. Corruption: “We have the best government that money can buy.”
  12. Editing: “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
  13.  News releases: “I don’t give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.”

    Mark Twain in Nikolai Tesla's lab

    Mark Twain in Nikola Tesla’s lab

  14. PR consultants: “There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”
  15. Lobbyists: “Honesty is the best policy – when there is money in it.”
  16. Public speaking: “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
  17. Writing: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
  18. Media training: “I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.”
  19. Politics: “The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.”
  20. Spokespeople: “Only kings, presidents, editors and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial ‘we.’”
  21. Media relations: “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”
  22. PR: “Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.”
  23. PR: “One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.”
  24. PR: “Don’t tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.”
  25. Social Media: “Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.”
  26. Advertising: “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”
  27. Speechwriting: “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

If you enjoyed these quotes, you can find many more at BrainyQuote.coma useful resource for writers of every stripe. And you’ll find lots more writing and blogging resources in our PR Library.

Author: Jeff Domansky

Visuals: via Robert Blei’s Poetry Dispatch, Wikipedia