Use PR to Reach Your Customers and Other Audiences on an Emotional Level
By Robert Deigh

Using public relations is more often
about making an emotional appeal
to your audience rather than addressing
only logic.

The use of hybrid cars, better health
care, more medical research, more accountability in government, and safe
playgrounds are all issues that have benefited from an emotional appeal using public

Does your product or service hit them right in the heart when it counts? During a
natural disaster, for example, can you provide help? Are you a radio station with
information, a facility with shelter and food, or a company that offers medical
assistance or transportation? (Think of snow days in which people with SUVs race to
hospitals, shuttling doctors and nurses to work.)

Whatever you are promoting, you need to explain to your audiences on an emotional
level how it benefits them or others they care about. Every good product, every good
service is, at its heart, a means by which to help people live, work, or play better. As
retailers know, what they sell are benefits, not features.

Travel agents sell adventure, discovery, education, and relaxation (not trips); movie
theaters sell escape, romance, and excitement; software makers sell efficiency and
convenience; jewelers sell glamour and love; home builders sell the concept of
togetherness, shared lives, and community; luxury car makers sell power and status;
restaurants sell taste experiences and camaraderie; and fashion designers sell style,
beauty, and sex. If you sell office supplies, you are really selling efficiency. Violins? A
lifetime of musical enjoyment. Hybrid cars? Good environmental practices, cost
savings, and trendiness.

Has anyone ever bought a top-of-the-line Harley- Davidson motorcycle just for sheer
transportation, or a $20,000 Rolex just to tell time? People trust brands, and brand
building comes about as the result of marketing and public relations, supported by
advertising and word of mouth.

A good brand provides buyers with predictable quality and appeals to their emotions.
And, in the war for attention, brands win. You can be the top brand, even if it is only
within your industry or among your target audiences.

Help people understand clearly on an emotional and rational level the benefits you
can provide. Generally, people respond to an appeal because it addresses one or more
of the following needs:

- Business/mission: Can you help them meet their goals, make more money, save
time, make them look better to their superiors, get a promotion, or beat their

- Social life/lifestyle: Can you make their lives more enjoyable, provide more leisure
time, make them more attractive, help them find romance, make them healthier, make
their friends and coworkers envious, or help them further their hobbies or other

- Beliefs: Can you provide a "place," physical or virtual, where they can feel
comfortable expressing their political opinions, religious beliefs, or other personal
feelings? Can you provide information that will help them make up their minds on
important issues? Does your organization support a cause in which they strongly

- Reputation: Can you further enhance or protect their professional or personal

- Ethnic/religious/national identity: Can you help them connect with others who share
similar ethnic, racial, religious, geographic, or other traits? Or give them a place where
they can experience diversity and meet people who are unlike themselves?

- Philanthropic: Can you help them to help others and also feel good about

- Fantasy/Escape: Can you help them get away from the mundane and routine, at least

If you can address one or more of these needs on an emotional level, you have a much
better chance of having people understand what you can provide and respond
favorably to it. They will be more willing to take an action you would like them to

About the author: Robert Deigh is president of
RDC Communication/PR and author
of the  PR book "How Come No One Knows About Us?"). For a free full chapter, "16
Ways to Come Up With Story Ideas That Will Attract Press," contact:

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