Craft a sassy sound bite
When the Federal Trade Commission needed to explain why the agency has decided not to develop a do-not-spam registry — officials feared that spammers would target people on the list — a spokesperson said:
“You’ll be spammed if we do — and spammed if we don’t.”
You’ve got to love that sound bite! How can you craft such a memorable, quotable line for your copy? One approach is to list, rhyme and twist. Here’s how:
Write down the key or topic words from your article.
Then expand your list. The more words, the better. Try synonyms, antonyms and different forms of your key word — “spam,” “spams,” “spammed” and “spamming,” for instance.
Use rhyming dictionaries to find words that rhyme with your key words. My favorite is RhymeZone.
Keep looking. RhymeZone doesn’t recognize “spammed.” But it did send me to OneLook Dictionary Search for words ending in “ammed.” (Input “*ammed.”)
I searched for one of them — “slammed” — back at RhymeZone, which gave me this list: crammed, dammed, damned, jammed, rammed, scammed.
Next, find phrases that include those rhyming words at Phrase Thesaurus or ClichéSite.com. In fact, I found another starting point for the FTC sound bite by doing this research:
Publish and be damned.
Now substitute your key word for the rhyming word. Make it:
Publish and be spammed.
Don’t wait for the muse.
Some lucky communicators are natural-born phrase twisters. I have to substitute systems and processes for talent.
If you’re like me, list, rhyme and twist key words in your next story for a sassy sound bite or surprising headline.
Source: “Quotables,” Money, August 2004