Frost Advisory #692 – A Really Nifty Way To Communicate: The Rule Of 3

I don’t remember very much that I learned from my first two radio gigs. After all, I was a teenager and my face hadn’t cleared up yet*.

But I do remember learning the Rule of 3 in promos from an early programming mentor Howard Clark. (He had actually worked for several really big radio stations in places like New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. I, however, had only driven by really big stations).

  1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them. (That’s a tease, don’tcha know!)
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you told them.


A recent campaign from The Foundation for a Better Life at caught my attention.

“Here’s a short quiz:

  • Who won best actress last year?
  • Who won the World Series two years ago?
  • And finally, name your favorite teacher.

Now I’m guessing that the last question was the easiest. Why’s that? Because that person made a difference in your life. So go ahead – make a difference. Because making a difference is in you.”

Something to consider…

A choice of two is simply that. Hot/cold. Up/down. Coke/Pepsi. It’s binary and requires no thought, only reaction.

The Rule of 3, however, allows for a story to be told.

“It’s … no coincidence that good stories have a beginning, middle, and end. Films, literature, and video games are often crafted in the form of a trilogy. Three IS a magic number.

Three is the smallest number of elements you need to create (or break) a pattern. Using the power of three allows you to change your audience in some way: inform them, inspire them, or amuse them.”

Ginger Leadership Communication

You can learn a lot by hanging around smart people. Even better if there are 3 of them.

*I did learn how to cue a record and how to take meter readings. But I don’t like to brag.

**I’m reading a really good book that uses an abundance of asterisks and footnotes, so I wanted to be really cool like that, too. Which reminded me of Brant Hansen’s doodles.

Confession time. This is the first time in my 692 Frost Advisories I’ve purposefully left out the most important part. I’ll share that on next week’s episode.

That’s a tease.

John Frost

John has been a successful major market DJ and Program Director for such companies as CBS, Gannett, Cap Cities, Westinghouse, Multimedia, and Sandusky and publishes the Frost Advisory.

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