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

Use PR to Reach Your Customers and Other Audiences on an Emotional Level 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 relations.

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 carmakers 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 competitors?

- 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 avocations?

- 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 believe?

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

- 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 themselves?

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

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 take.

About the Author:

Robert Deigh is president of RDC Communication/PR and author of the upcoming PR book "How Come No One Knows About Us?"(WBusinessBooks, May '08). For a free full chapter, "16 Ways to Come Up With Story Ideas That Will Attract Press," contact [email protected] www.rdccommunication.com

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