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Pain, Passion, Fame, and Fun

Have you been thinking about how to get people to care about the information you are putting online?

As you begin the process to engage people in the offline or online world, you have to figure out how your messaging reaches the people you care about by tapping into what they actually really care about. On top of that, you have to figure out not only how to reach your audience but also to balance the priority of these messages for your staff’s work time.

Of course, this is easier said than done.

To help get through this hurdle, we have a couple filters we like to run our online messages through to really think if the content might be engaging, based on what we are trying to get done vs. what other people’s motivations really are. We named these so-called “filters” the two P’s and two F’s.

What do we mean by that? Let me tell you.

The 2 P’s and 2 F’s are ways to think about if your online messages inspire action and give value to your constituency. We describe them as the following:

Pain Pain is motivation. What causes your people pain? and; what encourages them through their struggle?
Passion Passion drives the work. Tap into your people that care about what you care about.
Fame Weave your community into your messaging. Give people online fame and draw attention to things besides yourself.
Fun Celebrate your work! Convey the joy and emotion in what you’re doing.


To understand your stakeholders is key. An easy way to start is by asking, What causes them the most pain? What needs are not met in your community?

Find common areas of pain among your people. Then, use this knowledge to identify how those pain points are being messaged in your website and your email newsletters. Figure out points of crisis or injury to identify points of need.


There are always a group of people that care about what you are working on. The goal is to tap into that passion that already exists in your network and give voice to the people that are feeling what you are feeling.

When you tap into people’s passions, make sure to always give them the opportunity for a small amount of ownership (Tag in a photo, Name check, Invite to an event as a guest, Ask to share with friends). The act of acknowledgement will give you the space to build an online presence engaging folks with continued small, well-defined asks. This leads us to Fame…


Weave your base and your community into your online narrative and messaging. Organizations are in a paradigm where they have to talk about themselves and their successes for funding purposes. How can we turn this around and highlight people in your network that are doing amazing work around the issues that you’re collectively working on?

    Use Fame to bridge Online and Offline Work

  • If you want people to come to your protest – you better have gone to a couple of protests.
  • Making people part of your narrative in a noncommittal way through social media and online communications gives them “fame” and by default engages them more.
  • Using the jpeg – posting people’s pictures on the Internet invokes the feeling of getting your name or picture in the local paper. It builds excitement, engagement, ownership.


You must convey the joy in what you are doing, even when you are working on serious issues. Look for the celebration of life or paint a narrative around what happens when your message/movement works. Build a transactional relationship that highlights the best case scenario and shows what the world can be – based on what actions that you want people to take.

People want to join movements that look like they are having fun.

Value Delivery is Key

The 2p’s & 2f’s can be used to not only continue to engage already existing networks but also GROW networks by connecting with more people, which we sometimes forget or find too hard to do.

At the end of the day, no matter what tricks or tips we apply, we must remember to always ask ourselves what value we are providing or creating for the people we are serving and if it’s what they really want.

Special Thanks to notetakers from the CA Tech Fest in Fresno and Gunner for providing thoughts on this blog post.

How do you motivate your people? What really gets them interested?

We’d love to hear more ideas!

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