October 2, 2018
Powerlines
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The Rule of Three
Why three may work magic on your marketing & PR efforts

Here’s the bad news: There’s no magic tactic that will make all of your marketing and PR efforts super effective every time you take a swing. But good practices do add up. And employing best practices – small, medium, and large – does, over time, increase your chances at success.

Today we wanted to dig into one small tactic we think is worth considering – employing the Rule of Three in your marketing and PR efforts.

The Rule of Three is the principle that things expressed as trios are more effective. Which means, content that comes in threes is funnier, more memorable, and more satisfying.

Why?

Because we dig patterns. Humans rely on patterns in order to process the crazy ton of information around us. And three is the smallest number of elements required to create a pattern. The combination of pattern and brevity results in memorable content.

The idea dates back to ancient Greek rhetoric, but it’s all around us even today. The number three is pervasive throughout some of our greatest stories, fairy tales, and myths...

Three little pigs
Three blind mice
Goldilocks and the three bears
The three musketeers
The three wise men
The three stooges


Some of the most famous quotes from history are structured in three parts…

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
Friends, Romans, countrymen
Blood, sweat and tears
Location, location, location
Truth, justice and the American way
Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
Faith, hope and charity
Mind, body, spirit
Stop, look and listen
Stop, drop and roll
I came, I saw, I conquered
Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll


And a three-act structure is the dominant approach to screenwriting in Hollywood. Of course, when you’re thinking about craft brand stories, starting with the beginning, middle and end is a great place to begin.

The Rule of Three isn’t limited to the world of marketing and PR – it’s used for writing, economics, even survival skills. But given the pace of the world we live in, and the attention spans of our audiences, we think it’s particularly valuable for folks in our biz.

For example, studies have shown that three bullet points are more effective than two or one. A few other places to consider the Rule of Three are…

Three main ideas
Three sections
Three visuals

(See what we did there?)

The Rule of Three works because it’s a concise, memorable pattern. But even if it weren’t, it’s been used so widely throughout some of the most memorable works from our childhoods, by now we’re no doubt preconditioned to respond favorably to elements grouped in threes. So go ahead and give it a try – we think it’s one small tactic that can help you move the needle on your marcom efforts. Reach out anytime.
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3 pigs
3 pigs
Genies don’t grant just two wishes, nobody talks about the two Musketeers, and you never hear anyone say “second time’s the charm.”

— The announcer gives three examples
of Rule of Three in action from a Hyundai car commercial
 
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Resources Resources
Handy Branded Content – get our three cheat sheets here.
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Resources Media Relations
Three surprising and successful media relations tactic – check out our video here.
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Resources Brand Storytelling
Read about three heroic brand storytelling examples here.
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