NOTE: this was originally posted on my "Sticky" blog, but I want to explore the perception management piece of this a bit more.
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev certainly succeeded in perception management. In my Sticky blog I wrote: "Almost nobody you meet remembers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Maybe a brief thought when you are reminded to leave your backpack or large bag at home on race day, but everyone remembers Boston Strong."
I was wrong, as the Boston marathon came an went with an Ethiopian sweep, ABC news and others recounted the story and more importantly, anchored the story with pictures.
However, Boston Strong, is the stronger perception manager. On April 19, 2016 a Google search for "Tsarnaev" yields 356k links, "Boston Marathon Terrorists" yields 630k links, "Boston Marathon Attack" yields 2.2M links and "Boston Strong" 345M links.
From the sticky post: "Just read the article about the Boston Strong banner being displayed on the final stretch of the 120th Boston Marathon next week. When I read that I got just a bit teary. You know the story, two college students, Nicholas Reynolds and Chris Dobens, came up with the idea of the t-shirts, published it on Facebook and by the time the smoke cleared, earned almost a million dollars for charity. Some claim the phrase is losing steam, but I beg to differ, so does the One Fund.
In the words of Howard Fineman, "Today, rescuers were running toward the wounded on Boylston Street in acts of true heroism -- running toward the sound of the screams.
In the end, the terrorists will fail because Bostonians did not turn from their fellow men -- they turned toward them. And that is the real music of mankind."
Sticky, why some ideas stick and others don't, is a subset of perception management.
The reason I think this is "sticky"(Simple/Unexpected/Concrete/Credible/Emotional)"
- Simple: Blue and Yellow, block letters. There are other renditions of course, but this is the core.
- Unexpected: Two college students, near instant turnaround, it went viral. No way to see that coming.
- Concrete: "Concrete details allow us to imagine a scene and, crucially, imagine ourselves in it." [Lifehack.org] I have the slogan as a refrigerator magnet and reflect on the heroics and strength of the people of Boston every time I see it.
- Credible: This is what they call internal credibility, "Internal credibility is the ability of our ideas themselves to convince through an appeal to our audience’s sense of how the world works and how they see it." [Lifehack.org] It is credible! The rescuers ran towards the screams.
- Emotional: Here is an article with just five of the heroes of the bombing. Feel more than a bit teary? Of course you do. Me too.
(Stephen Northcutt is the conference chair of SANS Boston 2016, August 1 - 6. Boston is one of his favorite cities. )