CONTENT CATEGORIES: fuel your funnel with the right stuff

Funnel marketing is back in fashion, and dozens of new ideas are popping up around this classic business concept.  The marketing funnel (or the consumer journey, or the conversion pathway, as it goes by many names,) is simply a conceptual construct to illustrate the broad phases of how leads are generated and then move from one place – where a consumer is typically unaware of your concept or brand or product – to another, more desirable place, where that consumer is ready to buy (or recommend) your specific product, and hopefully, right now.

It usually looks something like this:

Another concept – content marketing – has also been blogged to death in the last several years. The basic idea here is that brands can and should be generating and distributing a constant stream of content in many forms to attract and retain their target audiences.

Both funnel marketing and content marketing are relevant and valuable. Both concepts are basically applicable for just about any audience in just about any category, and that includes b-to-c or b-to-b. (That’s neat.)

But what I’ve noticed recently is that there isn’t much discussion on how content and marketing funnels can or should work together.

If you decide that it’s time to create content for your brand (and yes, it’s always a good time to do that,) you may also realize it can be quite difficult.  Questions abound about what to create, when to create it, where and how to distribute it, and whether or not it’s a good investment of critical resources, such as time, talent, and capital.

One important strategy is to create categories for your content that line up with your funnel marketing goals. In this case, the illustration would look more like this.

Let’s explore.

Almost every marketing funnel is illustrated by the letters A-I-D-A to represent awareness, interest, desire (or decision) and action. But in broader terms, the consumer journey is encapsulated by three broad categories: evaluation, consideration, motivation.

When the consumer is in the evaluation stage (becomes aware, develops interest):

In the early (high-funnel) stages, a consumer may be evaluating a purchase or interaction in this category.  In some cases, that consumer may be wholly unaware of your brand at this point. If your brand is new, or has just launched a new feature, or a new line, or has been dormant for a while and is back in some way, you want to communicate to the consumer set that you have options that might be worthy of review. 

For this I recommend creating generalized content.  Think about ways to show the consumer simply that your brand belongs in the category and has something interesting (or better yet different) to offer. This is a great time to educate/inform the consumer.

Some examples would include social content, blog posts, listicles, product reviews (to outline the basic brand/product traits.)

When the consumer is in the consideration stage (has interest, develops desire):

In the middle (mid-funnel) stages, that same consumer has probably become a bit more educated as a result of their exploration, and they’re now considering which options are the best for him/her/them. Note that this can only occur with brands that the consumer is aware of, and knows something about. They may circle back and look to check off important boxes, such as features, availability, time to delivery, and other (buying signal) particulars that are now important to them. 

Also note how the consumer, from a psychological perspective, gets more and more self-interested as they proceed down the funnel.  The conversation tends to move from “what does this thingy do?” to “what does this thingy do FOR ME?” 

This is where you should consider more specialized content. Help the consumer see your brand from the perspective of its superiority points, or better yet its unique points.

Some examples would include infographics to position your brand in the category, video or animated product demonstrations, info sheets/brochures or White Papers for b-to-b (to highlight the brand/product difference relative to other choices.)

When the consumer is in the action stage (has desire, ready to act):

Finally, the consumer reaches the moment of truth.  They’ve moved into the mode of desire and are ready to act in some way.  As mentioned above, they’ve considered this from a fairly self-interested point of view, and come to believe that maybe only one brand can really satisfy their needs.  Very often, they may whittle their choice down to two brands (because binary choices are easier for consumers to make,) and run a final A vs B competition in their minds, and yes, maybe even in their hearts.

Whenever you hear someone say marketing is emotional, they’re talking about this critical juncture in the funnel.  Consumers – especially if they’ve reached this binary choice phase – tend to go with the option that “feels” right for them.

If you’ve made it this far, be sure to have some contextualized content ready to go to motivate that consumer to choose your brand.  Take out any remaining guesswork. Show that consumer what it will be like to interact with your brand every day, and how that relationship will progress.

Talk about expectations, get specific on policies and procedures, warranties and registrations, and smooth the path to get the action (which may not always be a sale, by the way) you desire most.

Some examples would include consumer testimonials, case studies, and any customized or educational content like webinars (note the very personalized and specific complexion of these options.)

A clash of cultures: Twitter cancels Burger King.

A lot has been made of Burger King’s recent ad titled “Women Belong in the Kitchen.” If you’ve heard about it, you’ve likely already taken sides and are either itching to rage-tweet me, or are eager to hear someone else who supports your point of view.  Instead of taking sides, let’s be objective and unpack this thing one step at a time.

For anyone who doesn’t know, or didn’t read past the headline, Burger King was announcing the establishment of a new scholarship called H.E.R. (Helping Equalize Restaurants) to aid aspiring female employees who want to pursue careers as Chefs. The timing of its release coincided with International Women’s Day. 

Here’s the ad that ran as a full page in The New York Times:

First, let’s clarify what the ad was meant to do.  And we can do so by remembering what ALL ads are meant to do: get your attention. And this headline, while controversial if it stood alone, does that very well, because it’s dangerous. Because it’s a trope. Advertising leverages drama because it leads the reader to a destination that’s equal parts entertaining and attention-getting. And because a headline that reads “Burger King launches new scholarship to aid female representation in restaurant kitchens” is neither.  That sort of thing is for a press release, not an advert.

From a craft point of view, this is a strong headline, in that it serves to do at least one job that all good headlines should perform: it summarizes the content that follows. If we’re being objective, (and we agreed that we would be,) this is a very good all-copy ad-nouncement.

Now, let’s look at where it went wrong: in a word, Twitter. When the brand (and the agency behind it,) wanted to extend this exciting conversation online, it took to Twitter and Burger King’s 1.9 million followers with the initial tweet. Which, sadly, was just the headline. It then tweeted a summary of the content that follows in the ad. [Important note: the tweets were initially “debated” on @BurgerKingUK.] While Burger King did clarify the headline tweet in subsequent posts, it was apparently the string of ugly comments in the conversation thread that got out of control. The entire thread has since been deleted, and an apology was issued by global CMO Fernando Machado.

Ad culture meets Twitter culture and fails.  Cancel culture meets Burger King and shuts it down. This whole thing has gotten off the rails, and I think it’s mostly because people are not taking anything beyond face value. I would argue that we need a context culture more than anything else these days.  An army of fact checkers and industry experts who could act as docents for a whole generation of people who seem to crave being offended, and who magically find a fix on social media at roughly the rate of every news cycle.

The ad, the subsequent Twitterstorm, and the media kerfuffle that followed it have become new facets in the cultural touchstone that is today’s cancel-happy culture. The sad part is, it’s a pretty good ad. And Burger King, as a restaurant chain, (whether we should call them a “restaurant” or not is a different subject altogether,) is trying in earnest to do a darn good thing in the face of an inequality on which they are wholly qualified to comment. It’s a shame that we’re dealing with this level of bullshit from a minority of wokesters when a brand decides to put its money into something that might actually help in a concrete way what is, in this case, a marginalized segment of the population.

Now let’s look at what’s REALLY wrong with this ad: the typesetting is insulting, and should be cancelled immediately! The face is what it is – Burger King’s going for the retro-hip thing with the old bubble letters logo. Fine. I’ll concede that for the sake of the old-is-new branding mission.

But lord, where is the copyfitting? When the creative director was reviewing this, didn’t he or she think, “hmmm…that’s a weird place for a hyphen?” In the middle of the name of your new scholarship, in the middle of what’s arguably the most important word (Equalize,) you couldn’t break the line differently? And then again, in the last line of the ad, in another important word (kitchen) we couldn’t hard kern a little bit?

After a week of debating the merits of this approach, I haven’t heard any ad geeks talking about this.  Why? If we’re being objective, there’s probably a conspiracy afoot.

Super Bowl 55 Grins and Groans

Well, Super Bowl 55 is in the rear view mirror, and for those of us who root for other teams, we’re counting down the 212 days until the 2021 season kicks off and hope springs once again. But for those of us who love advertising, last night was a pretty good night.

Overall, the ads were solid.  That’s saying a lot, considering we’ve had years in the recent past where there were lots of stinkers and head-scratchers. No, this year, the advertising gave us some good laughs, some fun little surprises, and even some smart marketing.

Diversity was certainly a theme this year, and that’s always a good thing. So was optimism.  We saw very little mention of COVID-19, and only one or two of the roughly 75 national spots that ran even referenced what has happened over the last 10 months. It’s as if advertisers are simply looking forward to what’s next, and that’s a very good thing.

We also (thankfully) heard very little in the way of political viewpoints or messaging, which grew over the past three or four years more than at any other time. Finally, we did have some nostalgia this year, with ads dropping pop culture references from decades past with cameos from Edward Scissorhands, That 70’s Show, Sesame Street, Wayne’s World, and a surprise appearance by Beavis & Butthead.

Here are the ads from Super Bowl 55 that made us grin, and yes, a few that made us groan.

First, some honorable mentions:

Doritos 3D – the “flat Matthew McConaughey” was cute, and is mentioned here because it did a good job working the basic claim that “life is dull when things are flat.”  The problem, of course, is that Doritos still sells a LOT of flat chips.  No mind. Marketing a new 3D snack chip (remember Bugles?) requires marginalizing all the 2D snack chips. Got it.

M&M’s – a good use of the product as currency to make amends. The spot used funny vignettes of typical douchebaggery and turned it into an uplifting little message that M&M’s can help us all get along again. They’ve been really good at working the “Disney of candy brands” angle.

GM – one of the very few automotive spots in this year’s Super Bowl, (only three,) where Will Ferrell does his thing and fixes his faux anger on Norway.  Light, funny, and did not take itself too seriously while telling the world that GM is focused on going all electric over the next decade and a half. Note to all big brands:  doing a Super Bowl spot?  Start with a really funny improv comedian – that’s half the battle.

Dexcom – I thought this was a weird category for Super Bowl (Dexcom is a continuous glucose monitoring system for people with Diabetes,) but it was well done, and the use of Nick Jonas (resurrecting the “I’m also a client” approach,) was effective. Simple, smart advertising for the people who need to hear it.  What a concept!

Klarna – I had never heard of this brand before, but after watching the commercial (silliness to the power of four tiny Maya Rudolphs,) I understood the basic premise:  Klarna lets you turn any purchase into four tiny payments. Hey, that works.

State Farm – they took their Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers schtick and raised it a Paul Rudd and a Drake.  Very good performance from “Drake from State Farm” in this one.

BIG GRINS:

SAM ADAMS WICKED HAZY IPA – “Horses”
A team of Clydesdale horses is inadvertently let loose through Quincy Market by “yaw cahzin fram Bahh-stin.”  It’s funny, and entertaining, and a classic shot across the bow from a challenger brand, especially when the leader (Budweiser proper) decided to sit this one out.

BUD LIGHT SELTZER LEMONADE – “Lemons”
One of the few brands to even reference the previous year, the ad starts out by saying “2020 was a lemon of a year.”  Then we cut to various scenes of normal and even celebratory gatherings getting interrupted by thousands of lemons falling from the sky.  Hat tip to Paul Thomas Anderson who hat tipped to the book of Exodus.  For an ad that’s trying to get you to remember one thing (LEMONS) this one was a winner.


AMAZON – “Alexa’s Body”
This could certainly have been the ad of the night for me.  First, the ad does the basic duty of explaining that “Alexa has a new body.”  It’s dramatized in the form of Michael B. Jordan, and the ad imagines various scenarios of him as Alexa.  Beyond that, the ad is diverse, well-acted (the husband and wife performances are really strong, and Jordan plays the submissive and willing AI deliciously,) and also flips the gender roles very well.  A device with a female name is now embodied by a very male body indeed. A little sneak-in of an upcoming feature film as an “ad within an ad” is also a sweet little trick.  This ad was like a complex gourmet dish, where subtle flavors kept showing up with every bite.  Well done, Amazon.

WINNER(S):

ROCKET MORTGAGE – “Pretty Sure”
In two of the best spots of the night, Tracy Morgan (one of at least a half dozen SNL alums to appear in the commercials this year,) steals the show with his brand of pay-attention-to-me-while-I-melt-your-face comedy.  In each execution, a family is interested in purchasing a home, and is “pretty sure” they have everything in order to purchase it.  Tracy steps in to clarify that with Rocket Mortgage, “you could be certain.” Then we go through several zany clips where “I’m pretty sure” is simply a terrible idea.  Snakes. Murder hornets.  Jumping out of planes. Running from bears. Angry aliens. Wrestling WWE superstars. You laugh out loud, you gasp, you cringe, and then you realize the man is right:  pretty sure isn’t sure enough. Point well made, brand well represented. Super Bowl advertising honors won.

Now, not all the spots were that good.

GROANS: While this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads was pretty strong, there were still some brands that maybe didn’t hit the mark with their messages. I call them “groans.”  That doesn’t necessarily mean they were bad, it just implies that maybe their money (roughly $183,000 per SECOND,) wasn’t well spent around these concepts.

MOUNTAIN DEW – “Bottle Count”
It was cute. And trippy.  And it was kinda cool to turn it into something interactive.  (Guess how many bottles of Mountain Dew in this commercial and you could win a million dollars.) But maybe too cute? Too trippy? It looks as though it’s targeted to nine-year-olds, and maybe that’s why I didn’t get it.

HELLMANN’S – “Fairy Godmayo”
This would be a good ad (and a lot more affordable) if it were run during an episode of the Rachael Ray show.  42 times. And there would still be almost four million dollars left in the budget. On the surface, it’s not terrible:  Hellmann’s shows up to dazzle every day leftovers into something sparkly!  That’s exciting.  But when the character asks the Amy Schumer-as-fairy-godmayo “what else can you do?” Hellmann’s responds “Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.” And that’s where I groaned.  This could have gone into “making salads shine!” “Making grilled cheese grillicious!”  “Making burgers bippity-boppity-yummity!” But nope. The brand is happy to say it can do nothing else but some fake magic on bad artichokes. An opportunity missed here, I think.

TIDE – “Jason Alexander Hoodie”
After two years of absolutely crushing it on Super Bowl (seriously, “It’s a Tide ad” from 2019 is already in the lofty company of all-time greats,) this one just falls flat on a.) some tired jokes and b.) some graphic tricks and c.) Jason Alexander doing a pseudo-Costanza as the climax. Sorry, but it made me groan.

VERIZON – “Fortnite”
Look, I get it.  Everybody wants Samuel L. Jackson in their commercial.  And everybody wants a fast network.  But turning him into a Fortnite avatar and having him give a sermon on the mount about “ultra low lag” and then doubling down with JuJu Smith-Schuster is all sorts of confusing. Like, who’s the target? And isn’t Fortnite kinda over if you’re not under 16? Asking for a friend.

FIVERR – “Four Seasons”
Remember when I said there were almost no political statements being made? Well, Fiverr had to futz with that and make a reference to a bizarre moment in our recent political history.  The problem is that this reference is divisive at best, and not that funny at worst. Just a real miss on an obscure talking point in a sorry attempt to be, what, cute? Kitschy? In this moment, when millions of highly qualified professionals are out of work or struggling to find it, Fiverr could have made a brilliant and timely statement about the need for  – and availability of – freelancers on its platform in an ever-increasing side-hustle economy.  (Squarespace came closer with its “5 to 9” spot.) Instead, they sunk five and a half million bucks into making Four Seasons landscaping in Philly even more famous. Ooof.

So…what did YOU think of Super Bowl 55 ads? Would love to hear your comments.

Until next year!

2021 Marketing Outlook: two possible scenarios for advertising’s near future

2021_marketing_thingy_featured_image

As we’ve turned the calendar to a new year, and the leadership of the country has turned over to a new administration, we have to consider if there might be a new kind of marketing landscape to be formed in a (hopefully) post-COVID world.

There are two distinct possibilities that could feasibly materialize. One, that we are in for a boom time in advertising as the population wakes from its imposed hibernation. And the other, far more daunting, possibility is that advertising may be met with increased skepticism, or worse, not welcomed in the national commercial dialogue.

Possibility 1 – it could be the best of times. As more and more Americans receive a vaccine, it’s conceivable that life could return to what we would consider “normal,” perhaps even as early as the summer months. It could mean being allowed to gather again with friends, to travel again at will, to eat indoors at restaurants, and (oh please, dear sweet baby Jesus) to sit with 70,000 close friends at the home opener for your favorite football team.

With that, consumerism will likely not just be on the rise, but there’s very good reason to believe that we’ll see an elongated surge in consumer spending across numerous categories, built largely on pent up demand, and the sheer joy of having the “privilege” to once again participate in the analog retail experience.

And once those floodgates open, or it’s even hinted that they might, I would argue that we are likely going to see an equally giddy advertising crop burst out of every conceivable corner and category. Brands will trip all over each other for a share of the voracious consumer appetite, and media companies will feast at the table of “flexible” rates while the demand stays unusually high, and the competition is unusually fierce.

And the best part of this rosy prediction is that the tenor of the advertising itself is likely to be more positive, less serious, and almost joyous in nature. Simple messages like “we’re back!” or “we’re open” will lie at the core of most claims, and brands will be paying big money just to have the “privilege” to beg consumers to come back now that the pandemic has loosed its grip on the nation.

That’s a rosy outlook.

Possibility 2 – (okay, let’s go with the Tale of Two Cities theme,) it’s plausible that it could also be the worst of times.

It’s possible that consumer perceptions have changed significantly over the past 10 months, (and perhaps continue to do so for the next five or six months,) and that large demographic segments may be more guarded against brand messaging delivered across the typical media. This, as a result of first the shock therapy of nightly news with a drone of grim reports, and subsequently the drawn out solitary confinement of houses and apartments, living both professional and private lives in the same spaces.

Consumers may be in a kind of post-pandemic stress disorder, and it might last well beyond the days when it’s deemed safe to come back in the water. This bodes ominous for those sectors hardest hit: restaurants and hospitality, travel and tourism, the arts and entertainment, even healthcare.

And more importantly – and the reason this subject is being taken up on this blog – is that the normal receptivity to advertising messages may be affected in ways that has brands and their agencies re-thinking their strategies, and re-tooling their plans.

It wasn’t long ago (seriously, it was August 2019,) that we all reveled in the great Chicken Sandwich War between Popeye’s and Chik-Fil-A. Or watched like rabid MMA fans as Wendy’s and Burger King dealt death blows to each other via Twitter. It was fun. It was entertaining. And it was good for all the brands involved.

Mostly it was frivolous, and that’s what made it so much fun. Nobody got hurt, and we were just dishing abstract concepts and opinions that no one took THAT seriously. But here we are, perhaps about to come out of the year-plus-long fog that seems to have changed everything. Will American consumers have the patience for frivolous feuds? Will we tolerate the background noise of cola wars? Is it too soon?

Remember that brands (at least the ones with discretionary budgets,) scrambled to change the tonality of their advertising in the first few weeks and months after the pandemic took hold. Starting as early as St. Patrick’s Day 2020, we saw national brands releasing more heartfelt messages, saying things like “we’ll be here when this is over,” and heralding frontline workers. Somber. Serious. Considerate.

A few of the standouts: GUINNESS

UBER

DOVE

While those ads were all very good, (and I say this politely,) it was also almost too easy. When you do ads like that, you know you have about a 97 and a half% success rate, and you’d have to do something egregiously wrong to not curry favor with your target. The real challenge that faces brands and their agencies now is in striking the most appropriate first chord as the stage lights come on and everyone starts watching again.

It’s about to be morning in America once again. (Hat tip to Hal Riney.) And I’m just over here wondering if there will be Twitter feuds this afternoon.

What do you think? I’d love to know your thoughts. Please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

[Important note – We cannot overlook the seriousness of post traumatic stress disorder, including those struggling with the fallout of the pandemic. It’s real, and the people who face it are struggling in untold numbers and in myriad ways. For more information and resources on PTSD, visit www.ptsd.va.gov]

For brands – and for revolutions – words matter. Why “defund the police” is the wrong message.

defund_police_image

I used to have a daily calendar with pithy sayings, and one of my favorites, attributed to French moralist Joseph Joubert, read:
Words, like eyeglasses, blur everything that they do not make more clear.

Over the last several years, we’ve been confronted with a lot of words that reflect our social, political and racial realities. “Me Too.” “Time’s Up.” “I Can’t Breathe.” And now, “Defund the Police.”

As an observer, I see everything through the lens of marketing. And the disciplines of branding and advertising rely almost entirely on one key element to help reach human beings and manage their perceptions of the world: language. Language is how you convince. Language is how you compete. Language is how you win.

Language is what helps companies communicate IDEAS. And more specifically, language, when used correctly, communicates only the ideas you need to convey in order to shift or change perception.

Some context: in the famous cola wars, the soda brands Coke and Pepsi were duking it out for decades to convince people that their brand tasted better than their rival’s brand. The governing idea was that “people drink one soda or another based on the taste.” When Pepsi (and their 1984 ad agency, BBDO) rolled out the new slogan “the choice of a new generation,” it not only caught Coke off guard, it also worked to generate a huge shift in Pepsi’s favor.

It worked because it shifted the conversation away from the idea of the flavor profile of some caramel-colored carbonated sugar water towards the idea that the individual that drank it actually mattered. And the language was very clear that the lines would now be drawn on the basis of age and attitude, (youthfulness in particular,) and not taste.

There are other examples, like Folgers Coffee’s slogan “the best part of wakin’ up is Folgers in your cup.” Sounds like a simple rhyme, right? But what’s actually going on is the brand driving a stronger association between coffee and mornings, which is when most Americans drink their coffee. That’s language working the idea.

Then there was the famous “the other white meat” slogan from the Pork board. As American consumers were worried about heart health, red meat became public health enemy #1. Pork pivoted (never thought I’d write those two words,) and in 1987 hired Bozell, who devised this tricked-up language to associate pork with what consumers deemed healthy: white meat, such as chicken, turkey, and fish. While pork is considered white meat in culinary terms, because it is pale in color both before and after cooking, it is (still) classified as a red meat by the US Department of Agriculture. So you can see how language can be used to blur the lines as much as reveal them.

This is true in branding. It’s also true in revolutions.

The language that has emerged over the past several days and weeks of protesting police misconduct has centered around three impactful words: “Defund the Police.”

Strong idea.
Not a great choice of words.

And we need to rethink it, because people can (and will, especially for political gain,) easily misconstrue the WORDS to conjure up alternative ideas that are likely contrary to the intent of the message.

The IDEA of “defund the police,” is rooted in what many see as a history awash in abject racial inequity as it relates to policing. But read carefully: “defund” is neither a social construct, nor a racial one. It is an economic concept. Sure, we can talk about the steady escalation of local taxes and state budgets around policing: more funds for newer technology, vehicles, weapons and tactics that create what looks like a more “militarized” police force, even in Smalltown, America. But that’s not entirely why people are marching.

While a small percentage of people will stand behind the idea, I doubt that most protesters or demonstrating citizens would actually vote to actually defund the actual police with actual economic policy. But because the words themselves are not quite perfect, and so packed with far-reaching implications, it’s hard to have any constructive conversation around them.

What many people are expressing is that they want a hard reset. On race relations. On police use of force, especially against people of color. On political pressures and police union out-clauses that protect the uniform first, and then ask questions of any weight later. And mostly, they want to feel equally protected and equally served by their police. These are not conflicting ideals. These are complex collective emotions and they seem to be shared in this moment by more people than ever.

And yes, there should be a national dialogue around these issues. And there should be some time to reflect on everything that has transpired and brought us to this moment. And maybe there should even be a new approach to policing.

But words matter. And although “defund the police” expresses outrage and communicates its own #timesup with the current state of policing against a disproportionate number of black and brown Americans, it nonetheless sounds inflammatory and abrupt. It’s hard to unite around language that is inherently blurry.

When Martin Luther King, Jr. said “I have a dream,” he chose the words carefully. Even while he mused about people being judged “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” he simultaneously acknowledged that it was, at the time, out of reach of reality. By choosing “dream,” he communicated sheer possibility alongside the harsh reality of long, hard work to come.

And since words matter to me, I’ll offer these as an alternative to “defund the police.”

Reflect. Rethink. Retrain.

In my estimation, this is what demonstrators all around the country are actually clamoring for:

  • That we reflect on the choices that we’ve made, and the errors that systemic myopia can yield, from the Central Park Five all the way up to George Floyd. (And that’s just the very recent history.)
  • That we rethink what policing actually is, and more importantly, what it isn’t. In many ways, police are in less advantageous positions to protect and serve largely because they’re asked to do too many other things that may fall outside the purview of what “policing” actually is.
  • That we retrain police and the entire law enforcement ecosystem for the jobs they’re very good at, and move away from the “broken window” policing strategies of the 1990’s, which are at the heart of some of today’s core issues.

It may also require retraining of our own expectations – and responsibilities – as citizens around policing. As an object study, read what the Camden, NJ police department did, and how local activism and cooperation, along with de-escalation training and requiring officers to intercede if another officer was using inappropriate force, finally and positively changed an entire community.

There may not be perfect language for all of this. But we can start by avoiding imperfect, incendiary and inflammatory language that divides, misleads, and impairs our ability to collaborate on solutions.

Reflect. Rethink. Retrain. It may not be perfect, but it sure does make for a good chant from a crowd marching down Main Street, USA.