Monday, December 04, 2006

The emotional side of PR

I found myself being a PR person’s nightmare this week. To put it another way, I found myself refusing to believe (or at least not wanting to believe) a news story even though it was being covered by a number of pretty credible news outlets such as the FT, WSJ and Economist. The story was about the US dollar’s rather precipitous drop against other leading currencies. Now I didn’t want to believe it for a few reasons. First, because I run a business that reports in sterling and a fall in the dollar is just downright annoying. That said we use various currency products from banks to mitigate that problem. The second reason, is that I live in the US and I didn’t like the assertion that the US economy was actually weaker than the European economies. In truth I’m still not sure I follow the logic used by the Economist on this story but that’s not really the point of the entry.

My point here is that if someone has both a rational (runs a business that can be technically affected by a change) and an emotional (lives in the country that is said to be doing poorly) reason not to want to believe a story, it can be awfully hard to change their opinion. The emotional reason is the toughest to shift just because it’s so… emotional. In this instance I want to believe in the American economy for a host of reasons, not least that I have kids and I want them to grow up somewhere where they’ll get a good education and rewarding career. If the US economy has the kind of cancer that the Economist argues, then I should move my kids to France tomorrow where they will at least get great schooling. See my point? It’s awfully easy to get drawn away from the story and in to your own world. This reminded me that for PR people trying to fight issues on behalf of their clients that a good consideration of the emotional impact of a story may well go a long way towards finding a solution.

To put this thought in to perspective, if I were the US government right now and I wanted to counter the arguments being made, I’d focus on the great talent this country is producing in all sorts of areas AND the talent this country still attracts. It is after all people that make up economies and with great people you can have great economies. And who are these great people that I refer to? Well my kids of course!

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