Making Your Story Sticky with S.U.C.C.E.S.

… a core concept used in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107

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Concept description

In her class presentation on policy communications, Rhonda McMichael, ADM Communications, Ontario Cabinet Office referenced the six principles in Made to Stick, a 2007 book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (reference below, link on right) on how to improve the likelihood that a message will “stick” with an audience.

The six principles, which can be remembered with the pneumonic S.U.C.C.E.S., are summarized by Friedrich Pétré (reference below) as follows:

Simple: find the core of any idea. You need to prioritize your ideas. Providing 10 arguments to a public is doomed to fail since people will not be able to remember them all. Be a master of exclusion and stick to the core.

Unexpected: grab people’s attention by surprising them. You need to violate people’s expectations with counterintuitive surprise. Generate interest and curiosity to endure your idea.

Concrete: make sure an idea can be grasped and remembered later. Explain in terms of human actions and use sensory information. Use concrete images and proverbs.

Credible: give an idea believability. Look for ways to help people test your ideas for themselves.

Emotional: help people see the importance of an idea. Let people feel something. Research shows that people are more likely to make a charitable gift to a single needy individual than to an entire impoverished region.

Stories: empower people to use an idea through narrative. Tell stories. Hearing stories acts as a kind of mental flight simulator preparing us to respond more quickly and effectively.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Consulting and Communicating on Policy (core topic) in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107.


Chip Heath and Dan Heath (2007), Made to Stick – Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Random House, New York.

Friedrich Pétré (2013), Make your story sticky using 6 principles (S.U.C.C.E.S), BooksInBusiness, at, accessed 8 March 2018.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 8 March 2018.

Image: site for Chip Heath and Dan Heath (2007), Made to Stick – Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, at, accessed 8 March 2018.