Daniel T. Richards

Daniel T. Richards

Innovative Strategist & Digital Expert

Superlative Rhetoric: The first, best, only post you’ll EVER need to read. Period.

FrackNation v. Gasland 2: Showdown of the CenturyI learned a lot working with the FrackNation team. (Not the least of which is that there’s always time for margaritas.) But one of my favorite lessons came from writing press releases for director Phelim McAleer.

I drafted a release for some summer screenings and sent the text to Phelim for review. He responded:

“Not exciting enough.”

Not a lot to go on, but he got his point across. So I redrafted the release, added some “exciting” language, and sent it back. Phelim’s response:

“*yawn*”

Agitated but determined to get it right, I typed another draft, filling it with superlative and explosive rhetoric. It was over the top. When my Gmail notifier dinged it was Phelim with his signature pith:

“Good. Punch it up a bit and send.”

What did Phelim know that I didn’t? Something very important about rhetoric and human action: People need motivation. They don’t just want a reason to act. They want an overwhelmingly important reason to act.

They want controversy, intrigue, explosions, destruction, mayhem, wild and crazy good times, deep emotions, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, romance, passion, etc.

Here’s the final press release and what I learned from Phelim about superlative rhetoric:

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For the Puppies

I had the pleasure of working on the Kickstarter campaign for PUPPYCIDE: The Documentary. [UPDATE: Now known as Of Dogs & Men.] From the moment I saw the teaser, I knew this was a project I wanted to promote. Dogs have always been a part of my life. My family had five when I was young. <3 pugs.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “puppycide,” it refers to the unnecessary shooting of dogs—often by law enforcement. Before I met the filmmakers, Oz & Patrick, I had no idea how much of an epidemic this was. Their footage is stunning, heartbreaking, overwhelming. This is a film that needs to be made. And it will be.

The Kickstarter successfully funded today with 7 days to go. Congratulations to the filmmakers and to the victims who will finally find a national voice.

I count myself fortunate that I’ve been able to work on so many projects that I believe in. PUPPYCIDE adds to that long list. I look forward to what’s next.