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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  June 16, 2016

Two Things Viral Content Has

2 things viral content has

In my last post, Two Ways to Make Your Manifesto Go Viral, I promised to address the Stanford rape victim’s letter to the court. To call it compelling is an understatement.

Setting my emotions aside for a minute, let’s explore what made millions of people read and share this 12-page letter. I will leave her style and eloquence to experts on those topics. From a message strategy perspective, here are two things we can learn from this brave woman’s letter:

• She got down on the ground level. Many of us believe rape victims have a hard time during all phases of the process. That was made crystal clear after reading her blow-by-blow narrative about the hospital examination and the list of questions defense attorneys asked her. By describing the facts and her feelings, she gave us a ring-side seat to what she endured. We no longer merely believe victims struggle. We now know for sure that they do. The next time you write something, ask yourself: Am I painting a strong mental picture here? Or am I still at 30,000 feet?


Related: 5 Branding Lessons from TED2016


• She said what we thought. When the rapist blamed the “party culture and promiscuity,” many heads (including mine) almost exploded. She responded directly with an insightful distinction. Her quote: “Rape is the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.” This woman let nothing slide. She eviscerated his testimony and statement point by point. She said what we thought and with eloquence. Before you write something, ask yourself: What thinking do I need to correct? What unasked questions can I answer here?

In the age of short attention spans and skimming instead of reading, this is a great example of writing that will make us stop and digest long-form content. We will read what we feel. That being said, I wish her story didn’t have to be written. My heart aches for this stranger. She is every woman.


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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.