What do “Vampire Electronics” and “Dropout Factories” have in common?

“Vampire Electronics” are those MP3 and cell phone chargers around your house that slowly consume electricity. “Dropout Factories” are the 1 in 10 U.S. high schools where less than 60% of the student population graduates. Over the last few days I’ve seen tons of news headlines regarding both of these items, and the headlines for each always include their specific catch phrase.

Imagine you are an unfortunate employee working for a government agency or public interest group and you are given the job of getting out an unspectacular and obvious message like “Fast food is fattening”, “Not wearing a seat beat is dangerous”, “Schools are failing to educate underprivileged kids”, or “Chargers use electricity”. None of these things are new and everyone should already knows these things. These messages are not sexy and not eye-catching. How would you frame any of these messages to make them interesting? How would you get these messages picked up by news outlets?

Here is what to do. Brand your idea with an evocative association to another concept, in this case, a vampire or a factory, and formulate a catch-phrase. This elevates your dull message into a simple, unexpected, concrete, emotional story. I am certain that all the head-lining “Dropout Factory” stories would have be buried in the newspaper if it was not for the catchy headline. Likewise, I am certain the “Vampire Electronic” stories wouldn’t even make the paper without this curiosity-provoking and Halloween-friendly phrase.

Think about this the next time you have a message to get out. How can you distill your message down an evocative core that communicates it’s essence and helps it get picked up and delivered?

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