If you hold shares of Berkshire Hathaway, you know that Warren Buffett doesn’t quite have the Midas touch he once had. But when it comes to making dry issues of finance come alive to the media through the use of wildly colorful quotes, Warren Buffett remains the King of all sound bites.
Andrew Ross Sorkin writes a lengthy story about Buffett in Today’s New York Times. In the article, Sorkin can’t resist re-using an old sound bite from Buffett:
“He once described the difference between himself and private equity: ‘You can sell it to Berkshire, and we’ll put it in the Metropolitan Museum; it’ll have a wing all by itself; it’ll be there forever. Or you can sell it to some porn shop operator,’ he said, adding: ‘He’ll stick it up in the window, and some other guy will come along in a raincoat, and he’ll buy it.’
This is a textbook example of a perfect sound bite.
- It has a clear, focused message that helps advance Buffett’s business interests.
2.It has humor.
- It uses analogy.
- It is attacking.
- It’s naughty. Here is a billionaire in his 9th decade on the planet and he’s talking about porn shops and pimping.
- It evokes pop culture. If you haven’t been to the Metropolitan Museum, you’ve seen it on TV and in the movies, and who hasn’t driven by a seedy porn shop? And we all know what the guy in the raincoat represents.
- It uses absolutes, “forever.”
If you are a journalist used to hearing finance people speak in boring, dry, abstract terms, Buffett is an answer to your prayers.