Suppose he had issued a long-form commentary in The Wall Street Journal. In it he highlighted research showing that the aging can function well in leadership positions. Duh.
That would have generated more attention to his age. Likely, he probably wouldn't have been elected president.
Instead he pushed back with a quip that he wouldn't hold his opponent Walter Mondale's youth and inexperience against him. The rest is history.
In this social media era, anyone can become targeted. Exactly the wrong response is long-form anything. The mandate is to be fast, brief, and clever. That's exactly why you must participate in Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. A blog could be useful.
When Gawker readers pounded me for my myriad alleged failings, I agreed with them. My push-back platforms were my three blogs. I headlined that they were right: An old lady like myself didn't belong hanging out on Gawker. End of story.
PR Week published a debate on the effective push-back when vilified by the media. Long form like Alibaba's reply to Barron's critical article? Or very short form?
Very short form, advocated Anne Green of CooperKatz. At least most of the time. She framed long-form crisis communications as a version of The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Also, attention spans are currently short. The mindset is wired for tweets and soundbites.
However, as Green points out, there will be situations which demand the traditional rebuttal: long and detailed.
One might be the controversy over censoring hate speech on college campuses. The arguments for and against it can't be captured in a one-liner.
So, there could come a time when you sense you better leverage very short form. If you are not quip-equipped, then you better have on call a communications expert who is. The skinny is that Reagan's speechwriters had been the source of that iconic one-liner.