The Power of the Asterisk

When it comes to employing framing to promote positions, Washington DC is usually ground zero: troop surge, death tax, No Child Left Behind, government power grab… the list goes on and on. Framing uses words or concepts have built-in equity in the minds of the audience, which helps turbocharge messages. For example, troop escalation smacks of Vietnam; troop surge comes coupled with the notion of an exit strategy.

But the headline of a Wall Street Journal editorial masterfully made the author’s point with the addition of a single point of punctuation: the asterisk.

Adding that one character to the end of the President’s promise evokes truckload of negative reactions: legal fine print, bait and switch, your mileage may vary, terms and conditions apply.  It’s a great example of reframing – quickly activating pre-existing concepts in the minds of your readers.


About the author


View all posts