As much as I appreciate a great book-to-film adaptation, I have serious fatigue from the trend of splitting the last installment of a franchise into two parts. Sure, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2 are brilliant, but they set a terrible precedent for the Twilights and Divergents and The Hobbits.

So when Lionsgate announced that it would demand another $300 million for us to see the full Hunger Games story split Mockingjay, the final book in Suzanne Collins’s trilogy, into two films, I was more than a little irritated. Then I saw the film.

The split brings out something interesting in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (aside from the cumbersome name). The extended screen time gave the actors and filmmakers more time to emphasize the theme of this book.

It’s not the action. It’s not the Katniss/Peeta/Gale love triangle. It’s the use of propaganda to persuade others to follow an honorable cause.

Like any post-apocalyptic tale, a rebel group (District 13, in this case) plans to overthrow an oppressive government. But to be effective, they must gain support from the other districts. And to do that, they must turn to everyone’s hero—Katniss Everdeen—and use her authority to convince the others. Katniss must become the Mockingjay, or the spokesperson for the revolution.

It’s not likely that your goals as a small business owner are as ambitious as taking down President Snow and the Capitol. However, you are trying to change the world in some small way through the products and services you offer. To convince others to invest in your brand, use these suggestions and establish your own Mockingjay. Tweet This

Add Some Authority

There is a reason that the leaders of District 13 choose Katniss Everdeen as the spokesperson for the movement. She is recognizable. She is relatable. And she proved her strength and her authority when she won the Hunger Games in a way no one had—by tricking the gamemakers.

Your company may have a blog, and you may be sharing popular industry news over social media. But unless you are contributing something new to the conversation and not simply rehashing information found in multiple places online, you have not yet achieved Mockingjay status. Tweet This

In the SEO community, we look to websites like Moz or Search Engine Land before other sources because we know they often break the news about search engine updates and contribute new research and insights. I’m sure you can think of similar brands within your industry. Even if you add your original opinion to a tired topic, you can start to become a thought leader.

Don’t be afraid to put a name to those thoughts, either. Facebook has its Mark Zuckerberg. Amazon has its Jeff Bezos. Apple has its Steve Jobs. People will latch onto those individuals as authority figures.

Add Some Emotion

Once you’ve proven your expertise through original contributions, it’s time to humanize your company.

At the beginning of Mockingjay – Part 1, Katniss has a disastrous first attempt at creating a “propo,” or propaganda advertisement. She is wearing too much makeup, she’s standing in front of a digital backdrop that resembles a war zone, and she calls out a prewritten line with little passion.

Then, Haymitch Abernathy asks District 13’s marketing team of sorts about the moments Katniss genuinely moved the people of Panem. They mention the moment when she volunteers to take her sister’s place at the reaping, when she shows compassion for Rue during the Hunger Games, etc.

Katniss shines in the moments where she’s real.

Make your company more real, more human. Tweet This You do need to explain the benefits of your business in a professional way, and you should probably use the ambiguous “we” in your copy as you do so. However, you have opportunities throughout your marketing campaign to remind your audience who they are really working with. Start with these tips:

  • Tell the story of your success, or the success of your customers. Use your “About Us” page to get personal. On other pages, forget why your company is great. Think about the needs of your customers and how your product fulfills them.
  • Write simply. Unless you are writing to a group who will understand business jargon—and you might be—speak as you would to a friend.
  • Add names and short bios to your content, and include the author’s interests or quirks along with his or her qualifications. At Zappos, customer service representatives even announce when someone new is running the Twitter account so customers know exactly who they are talking to.
  • Generate content from your employees. In a society that increasingly values “company culture,” this one is important. Ask your workers to take photos of company events, unique workspaces, spontaneous lunchtime foosball tournaments, etc. and post them.
  • Give information for the sake of helping your customers. With informational blog posts, e-books, videos, etc., you can prove you and your employees are more than just a sales pitch.

Katniss Everdeen never set out to start a revolution. She acted with the natural instinct to protect her sister, and the rest followed. You want to establish authority for your company, but don’t try so hard that you lose the empathy that will draw in more followers.

Every Success Begins with a Spark

The heroes of our favorite books and movies don’t begin with everyone looking up to them. It will take some time, plus some trial and error, for you to become an authority in your industry. However, with small steps to demonstrate your knowledge and your humanity, your company will get there.

May the odds be ever in your favor.




  • Josh, April 20, 2015 @ 9:05 am

    Being recognizable and relatable sounds simple, but it can take some great effort for some of us. For others, it comes naturally. I think it all comes down to being true to yourself and your principles. That’s true for businesses too.

    My favorite thing about Katniss is how her dedication to being true to her principles and her raw/authentic personality becomes a disruptive force that creates positive change. There were already people ready and willing to fight back against the tyranny, but they lacked someone like Katniss. People are inspired by dedication, passion, truth, and love.

    It is a great reminder that the status quo for the sake of the status quo is ridiculous. In fact, it can even be dangerous. In Katniss’ world, it caused immeasurable harm and suffering for individuals and families. In an organization, it can create barriers to growth and development. On a blog, it can lead to a stale environment that leaves followers hungry for something other than what you offer.

    Anywho, this blog post gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for it!

  • Jeremy Lindstrom, April 20, 2015 @ 5:16 pm

    Shannon, I really like this metaphor/comparison. You really pulled out the applications well and it’s actionable and real. Well done!

  • Caz*, April 26, 2015 @ 6:34 pm

    Such a relevant topic to center your post around! I love this.

  • Maria Williams, April 28, 2015 @ 4:41 pm

    Shannon, This article is amazing and easy to read! I just saw that movie during the weekend and it actually makes sense with what we do ! Good job!

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