CommCore Blog and News

The Power of a Good Metaphor

Story Telling

Few issues are as complex and incendiary as those affecting relations between the U.S. and Mexico, principally disagreements over border security, immigration policy, and free trade agreements. The political paralysis in Washington and throughout the country on these issues is real, with the public, politicians and special interests lined up strongly on both sides.


Which is why a quote by newly-elected border state Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-AZ) is so apt.


In a recent interview with the New York Times, the former Air Force fighter pilot used a metaphor that illustrates how a simple visual representation of complex messages can paint a simple, clear picture of how to solve a thorny problem. When asked about her goals in her first term, she replied: “Border security is a really big one. But in addition to securing the border, to increase the public safety of our community, we also want to take advantage of the international trade opportunities. So metaphorically, it’s like we need a high fence and a wide gate.”


We at CommCore tell our clients that bringing data and difficult concepts or issues to life with “visual” stories and analogies makes for the most effective messaging. We aren’t sure if McSally’s metaphor will help Congress find compromise on these hot issues. But from a communications standpoint, it’s clear to us that this one visual metaphor may be more powerful than a thousand words in framing where the solutions may lie.