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The power of the pamphlet


This afternoon I got a big brown envelope in the mail.

A pamphlet, with a personal handwritten note on an embellished Harvard Divinity School stationary, slipped out of the envelope. I read the note, took a sip of coffee, and read the pamphlet from cover to cover. Several hours later I pondered the last question in the pamphlet. Should there be a loneliness tax on Netflix?

For centuries, pamphlets have empowered both leaders and folks to motivate strangers. Benjamin Franklin wrote and printed pamphlets to spread his opinions about pleasure, pain and paper currencies. Seth Godin published a pamphlet called Ship Itabout starting and finishing projects. Today, whenever I have an idea, but feel doubtful about sharing it, the title of the pamphlet “Ship it” comes to my mind. Ingrid, just ship it. Deeply inspired by the above I’ve written and printed pamphlets that gathered advice I wish I knew before I was 30, questions I wish I’d asked, conversations that matter in Norway and the latest, what I read in 2017. The pamphlets have become my way of sharing what I do and think with the people I deeply care about.

We read blogs for information and books for entertainment. Pamphlets serve several functions: as instruction manuals for consumer products, destination promos for tourists, and explanations of a company’s success. Pamphlets have been an important political tool to rally support around a particular cause. To a lesser extent, but with greater promise, pamphlets enable everyone to share visions, ask questions and explores ideas.

The pamphlet is powerful. Here are the reasons why you should consider adding it to your advocacy and communication toolbox:
  1. Short: Blogs are short and books are long. Pamphlets are more than a sketch, less than a masterpiece. Generally speaking, they are between 5 and 50 pages, so you can take the reader on a journey, elaborate on your ideas, without committing to an exhaustive treatise.
  2. Speed: Due to their length, they are quicker to write. Printing can be done at the local print shop or they can be uploaded online to reach your audience quicker than by publishing a book.
  3. Share: Although pamphlets can be available online to download, the power of the pamphlet has always been the printed product. Print a few copies at the local printer and share it with the people who you know and who matter, as well as with those who you think would enjoy reading it. By sending it in the mail with a personal note you reconnect with people who you care about and those who you want to influence.

And before you close the envelope, slip a second pamphlet so that your contact can share it with another person.

Drop me a note if you need help with your pamphlet.

Ingrid Helsingen Warner

Senior Advisor, International Communications, based in Oslo

Ingrid is currently on maternity leave. At Leidar she supports internationally-minded leaders and companies with their positioning and thought leadership activities.

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