How to Keep the Zimmerman Verdict and Rolling Stone Cover Stories Relevant for More than Two Weeks | TALKERS magazine : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

How to Keep the Zimmerman Verdict and Rolling Stone Cover Stories Relevant for More than Two Weeks

| July 23, 2013

It comes down to understanding the difference between “feelers” and “thinkers”

By  Dr. John Tantillo
Branding and Marketing Group, Inc.

NEW YORK — Yes, you can use the “F” word and get away with it.

It’s the word that will keep your content fresh and relevant as well as extending the shelf life of any topic you choose.  And I bet you it will keep your phones ringing beyond what you could imagine.

That “F” word:  FEEL!

And the question to ask yourself:

Are you a feeler or thinker?

Based on one’s answer, you can predict what side of every issue any caller will stand.   And by using this column as a “relevance primer”  you will be able to extend  the longevity of any subject you choose.

Let’s consider the Zimmerman Verdict and the feeler/thinker model.

Feelers believe that Zimmerman killed a black boy because he was a racist even though Zimmerman is Hispanic, comes from a mixed racial family, as well as investigators finding no evidence to support such an provocative claim.   In addition, feelers believe that they know better than anyone one else what Zimmerman had in his mind—to kill this black kid.   And of course they cite, the problem within our society regarding race and a criminal justice system which is dysfunctional because they did not get the verdict that they wanted no matter what the data indicated.  In other words, there is nothing that one can do or say to get feelers to change their respective minds.  It’s emotional, they know and if you disagree, well then you are the enemy.

Thinkers, on the other hand, look at the Zimmerman verdict  and believe based on the evidence, the prosecution did not prove their case.  They say the data did not indicate, without a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman had the intention to kill Trayvon.  Jurors who struggled with the verdict simply  “could not convict because the evidence did not fit” the theory of intent. Said another way, they could not convict because there was reasonable doubt concerning Zimmerman’s intent  — to do harm to Trayvon.    For thinkers this was clearly a tragedy, but the jury’s verdict was based on the evidence they heard and not on any pre-conceived notions to the contrary.

The thinker/feeler approach is a little more complex for the Rolling Stone cover controversy where the Boston Bomber terrorist  Dzhokar Tsarnaev is perceived to be glamorized by the magazine’s editors.  For feelers, featuring Tsarnaev on the cover is an outrage because it reinforces the hateful behavior engaged by this individual through the power of the attractive picture selected by Rolling Stone magazine.  Thinkers, on the other hand, while understanding that placing a photo like that on a cover is insensitive to those whose lives were changed by this despicable event, believe that this is smart marketing — getting people to stop and perhaps even read the article.  Their argument goes on to address the difference between this cover and a TV or radio interview with the terrorist’s mother proclaiming her son’s innocence for all to hear.  In addition, thinkers argue that the cover merely gets one to read the not-so-flattering headline, “The Bomber. How A Popular Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster.” 

Thinkers also understand that perhaps a less flattering photo or a mere silhouette of the alleged terrorist might have been a better option which would have been more sensitive to the needs of the Boston Bomber victims.  Heck, we wouldn’t ask someone who lost a loved one immediately following a burial, whether there was “life after death.”  A great discussion at dinner, perhaps, but not appropriate after a funeral.

As a branding and marketing guy, the real question in this discussion is how feelers and thinkers stay true to their brand?  Well first, we are not completely thinkers and feelers.  We have varying degrees in us depending on the topic. But for the most part, feelers should not abandon their brand characteristic of empathy, but use it to sense how the other side perceives the given situation.  And for the thinkers, they should use their logic to comprehend the thought processes that feelers use to express themselves on the topic of the day.

For talk show hosts, the question must turn to our respective personal brands and how best to address whether we are a feeler or thinker.  After doing that and understanding just what the difference is, we can begin to apply this if we want to do so.  By engaging in this process, we will reinforce our personal brand so that we can continue to stand out from the competition.  How to do this and make the feeler or thinker model your own is the process that you know better than anyone else.  It’s simply how you will “Go Brand Yourself,” so that your brand will be relevant for years to come.   And yes, it is always easier when you have branding and marketing in mind!


Dr. John Tantillo is president of the New York City-based Branding and Marketing Group, Inc.  He can be emailed at


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Category: Advice