Our increasingly distracting digital society has created relentless competition for attention, and as a result, the emotional appeal of a pitch can often be the determining factor of who gets coverage and who doesn’t.
“With the current state of the media industry (less people doing more jobs), the competition for media attention is tight,” says Markstein’s Nicole Wyatt. “The emotional appeal of a media pitch has always been important, but now more than ever it is crucial.”
It’s imperative that as PR professionals we continue to hone our ability to tell a captivating story that is driven by emotional intelligence. If we as professionals can’t take a cue from what is now commonplace for educators across the country who are teaching the importance of emotional intelligence to young children, we’re in trouble.
Since the concept of emotional intelligence was introduced decades ago it has been proclaimed by many as the secret, intangible key to success. There are various, complex definitions for what makes up the concept of emotional intelligence, but Inc. managed to sum it up in a single, simple sentence: “Emotional intelligence is the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you.”
Emotional intelligence covers five main areas: self-awareness, emotional control, self-motivation, empathy and relationship skills. It is, of course, important for good communication with others – and is therefore a gateway to better learning, friendships, academic success and employment. Skills such as these, developed in our formative years at school, often provide the foundation for habits we’ll need later in life.
Which is why Dave Yonkman’s “Why PR pros should focus on audience emotions” article on PR Daily made me stop, read and reflect on his three distinct points of recommendation.
How emotion grabs consumers
Emotional appeal is pivotal, but you still need a story. Your product or service needs something new, interesting or tangible to make it newsworthy. The tricky part is connecting emotion to an inherently unemotional object or topic.
For example, Communiqué PR works with several technology companies where it can be challenging to pull out the emotional appeal of data storage as a standalone topic. But when coupled with the importance of backing up your family photos, it gets real – and emotional.
Becky Honeyman, with SourceCode Communications, says, “If you can make someone ‘feel’ something, you will increase the response rate or engagement level tenfold. It’s fundamental for brands today to build relationships with their audiences. They can only do that by communicating consistently and authentically on subjects that are genuinely meaningful to them.”
How emotion piques media interest
The emotional appeal can help start the conversation, but it can only get you so far. The combination of a data-driven and personal approach to outreach is what will help you break through the noise.
At Communiqué, we have seen the most success when including data to validate any claim we make in a pitch or byline. We always look for credible and objective sources that support a unique point of view to demonstrate how that the issue impacts a broader audience.
Additionally, we recognize relationship building is not something that happens overnight and takes considerable time to cultivate and maintain. Part of that is demonstrating your value and providing journalists with ideas that correlate with their interests and coverage priorities.
This can take shape in a variety of ways and is obviously dependent upon personal preferences, but it can be as simple as reaching out to compliment them on a recent story – without a pitch in hand, referencing recent coverage in a pitch, or retweeting them on Twitter, for example. You don’t necessarily need a grand gesture, but it will lay the groundwork for future interactions.
“What’s in it for me?”
Emotional intelligence is the underlying theme here, spanning the importance of appealing to your target audience while also capturing media interest. The ability to understand and articulate the news value and how it resonates with specific media targets will make or break your campaign.
The old saying of walk a mile in someone else’s shoes still holds strong.
A seasoned PR professional, whom I look to as a mentor, has helped me embody this spirit in that when developing a pitch, she recommends starting by envisioning the aspirational headline you’re trying to achieve and working back from that to determine why the reporter should care, why their readers should care, what value this brings to our client, or other insights that can drive the pitch or byline.
While the internal optimist in me likes to believe that all people have an altruistic purpose, the reality is people react and respond quickly when it directly impacts them and satisfies their specific needs at that very moment. Whether right or wrong, the awareness can make all the difference.Tags: Best Practices, Communique PR, editorial coverage, Janae Frisch, Journalism, pitching, Public relations