Know Them before You Write for Them

According to Barbara Hardy, “we dream in narrative, daydream in a narrative, remember, anticipate, hope, despair, believe, doubt, plan, revise, criticize, gossip, learn, hate and love by narrative.”

People rely on good stories to give them valuable content. But today, people are likely to find themselves lost in the sea of stories overload and living unconsciousness, as Professor Jasso mentioned that there would be very few pieces of story gripping their attention. Most of the stories flash by and will be invisible after all. As a PR professional and a story crafter, the capability of storytelling is essential for success. Making your story distinctive and inspiring among a bunch of various stories is one of the keys.

In my opinion, the first thing to do to write a distinctive story is to constantly perceive the world that is rapidly changing. And when we do PR for an organization, my understanding is:

  • Keep a conscious understanding of the internal and external world of this organization and the industry
  • Identify your target audience (media and public) and know them VERY well
  • According to Professor Jasso, include these elements to make one narrative inspiring: raise interests, plot points, crisis and climax (Resolution)
  • Last but not the least, do not bombard your reporter friends’ email box with tedious news

toptenz-clapping-audience
(Picture credit: one of the blog posts on Wheeler Blogs on April 18, 2012, link: http://wheelerblogs.com/2012/04/18/social-media-personal-and-visual-pt-1-know-your-audience/)

I remembered once my client told me that, “we should distribute one customer story every day, so our target audience will see our name everywhere, and let them have an illusion that we are much better than other competitors.” Her intention was good. Unfortunately, we had not done the research on other competitors, the target audience and the benefits they cared about. We just wrote several irrelevant articles with the general introduction of the event and the product, as well as vague and inane quotes of spokespersons who said everyone was happy about this deal, just like Professor Jasso’s “happily ever after” story. You can imagine that this was definitely a failed approach. We even had reporters complaining about our annoying emails, because our story was not inspiring, no motivating or no engaging to them.

We have to craft an engaging “outside-in” story. When you keep conscious of what is going on outside your “small” company, we will understand the real concerns your target audience have. Even though they don’t say it directly, we can do some research, which will be a good start to write a good story for your company and your audience.

Diversity and Beyond: It is Not about Color, Nationality or Gender Anymore

Last night, Professor Jasso said, “Diversity is being invited to dance.” It is a very interesting analogy to remind us that we are already living in a diversified world, and minority groups are not “wallflowers” anymore. So, it raised other topics that are worth digging up, including a new definition of diversity groups and the impact it makes on pubic relations, particularly its workforce.

Professor Jasso brought up the topic of diversity when he was elaborating about stakeholders in an organization, including employees, suppliers, customers, government, investors, local community and special interest groups.

Even though stakeholders are differentiated by their roles, it is not that simple. Today we need to further diversity this category beyond even colors, nationalities or genders. Thus, PR practitioners who work on internal and external communications must be very mindful that all the stakeholders are treated with approaches, messages or languages simply based on their objective characters. In this new diversified world, it’s far more challenging to define diversity.

human_diversity

(Source: http://alternative-right.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-myth-of-diversity_4.html)

Objective characters, like color, nationality and gender, are only the starting point; the subjective characters are more critical. Professor Jasso introduced a new term, “psychographics,” which is a method to define interests, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of each stakeholder. This term is quite intriguing to me since this is way beyond the stereotypical way of distinguishing diversified stakeholders. For instance, take employee group, the most important stakeholders in an organization. Like Professor Jasso said:

  • They are the “front line” representing the organization
  • They have great credibility with outsiders
  • They will respond with loyalty when the organization makes them feel valued
  • Ultimately, I believed that employee loyalty is one of the most precious properties of the organization.

Unfortunately, from my observation in PR, many companies just hire minority groups to represent their diversity cultures, which are still focusing on color, nationality, or gender. That will lead to a negative effect that some with minority backgrounds will not be hired because of their personal abilities, professional skills, or values that they can bring to the organization.

The real value of minority groups, in my opinion, is that they can bring fresh perspectives and insights to this industry and their companies, and that will help companies develop sustainably in this diversified world. It is time to look beyond and look for a new diversified culture. The new definition of diversity will not just help PR practitioners to prioritize target audiences and create messages/languages for them, but also promote the cultivation of innovative talent. We, as one of the minority groups, expect to be hired because of our internal motivation of career pursuit, an intelligence of interpersonal communications, skills of relationship handling and problem-solving, and multicultural perspectives. It also echoes Professor Stein’s encouraging words in her class that, if you have a plan just go for it, regardless of where you are from.