The Power to Persuade

Last week, the focus of the Case Study and Issues in PR class was to understand public opinion and persuasion. To go deeper in this understanding, we need to think the following questions.

What has made you change your opinion of a public figure, organization or brand. 

Persuasion involves engaging people’s emotions, and stories can do that. Any company can use storytelling to persuade its stakeholders or customers. I read an interesting article, Storytelling That Moves People, written by Robert McKee and Bronwyn Fryer (Harvard Business Review), about the importance of storytelling and how to communicate ideas using this tool instead of a boring PowerPoint presentation. The authors suggested, “There are two ways to persuade people. The first is by using conventional rhetoric, which is what most executives are trained in. It’s an intellectual process, and in the business world it usually consists of a PowerPoint slide presentation in which you say, ‘Here is our company’s biggest challenge, and here is what we need to do to prosper.’ The other way to persuade people—and ultimately a much more powerful way—is by uniting an idea with an emotion. The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story. In a story, you not only weave a lot of information into the telling but you also arouse your listener’s emotions and energy.”

The Body Shop was created as a green alternative to mainstream cosmetics. Founder Anita Roddick built The Body Shop around opposition to animal testing of products, using natural ingredients, and supporting local farmers around the world. She created a story around the brand, which people bought and supported. I was one of them. When L’Oreal bought The Body Shop, I felt betrayed. I did not understand how a company with strong values could be sold to a company that is known for the opposite values. Something did not match. I felt that the story behind The Body Shop was a lie. I have the option to not betray my values, so I’m not a Body Shop customer anymore.

What factors have influenced your decision to do or not do something? 

After the factory disaster in Bangladesh, there has been a lot of discussion about companies are handling globalization – that is, what do they do in countries where corruption is common and law enforcement policies are different from those in North America?. Many companies have said that they do not have ties to the collapsed factories and, therefore feel no responsibility to what happens in countries such as Bangladesh. I believe that all companies are responsible. All businesses have values, and those values need to be transferred to any and all markets.

Gap Inc. is one of many companies that produces its products in Bangladesh but did not sign the Bangladesh Factory Safety Accord. This accord commits the brands to work with local stakeholders to guarantee the safety of workers. Gap said it “…was ready to sign on to the agreement, but first wanted a change in the way disputes are resolved in the courts.” Gap Inc. states the following on its website: “Working with Integrity: Our Code of Business Conduct, available in nine languages, promotes a responsible and ethical work environment for all Gap Inc. employees.” I shop at the Gap; however, I am concerned by the fact that what the company says appears to be different with what it does. I have not decided if I will continue shopping at The Gap. I like Gap clothes, but I need more information before making any decision.

What has made you think differently about an issue? 

In 1999, Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said created the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which is a youth orchestra for young musicians from Middle East, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Spain.

The objective is to promote understanding between the people and “demonstrates that bridges can be built to encourage people to listen to one another. Based on this notion of equality, cooperation and justice for all, the Orchestra represents an alternative model to the current situation in the Middle East.” Daniel Barenboim said, “Music can connect people and give the possibility to listen each other.”

This experience is showing us that other way is possible and how listening, art and dialogue can make a difference.

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Why is research important?

imagesI haven’t written my blog for a while because I have been busy with school, with assignments, and with other things. I could continue with many more excuses.

The main idea when I created this blog was to share my experiences as a mature student. One area of my experiences that I have not shared is the assignments I have been working on.

Last week, I began a new course – PR Fundamentals II. Writing a blog to share opinions about different PR topics is one of the assignments.   So, I no longer have any excuse for not writing.

This week’s topic is about why it is important to not jump ahead to tactical ideas for a PR campaign when taking on a new project.

First of all, if you jump directly to the tactics, you will waste time, effort, and money. Tactics – “the nuts and bolts of the plan that describes the specific activities that put strategy into operation and help to achieve the stated objectives” – need a foundation. Research and analysis are the way to find that basis.

To me, then, it makes sense to compare the process of developing a PR campaign with building a new house. A good solid house needs to start with a strong foundation. A good solid PR campaign needs to start with a strong foundation. Why are research and analysis so important? Research and analysis are forms of listening. If you do not listen to what your audience is saying about its needs, your product, or your organization, you will fail to understand what your audience wants and be unable to craft the key messages that your audience wants to hear. Research and analysis help you define the purpose of your campaign and therefore, it is hoped, launch a successful campaign. . In summary, good research and analysis allow you to build your strategy, set your goals, and reach your audience.

Doing the research for this post, I discovered an example of what can happen when a company fails to research and analyze what its target audience wants.

In 2007, Honda introduced a more powerful hybrid in the Accord line without adequately researching and analyzing who would be interested in such a car. The company discovered that people who drive Accords and hybrids are not really interested in extra horsepower. Consumers were not interested in spending $9,000 more on a hybrid Accord model. That same year, Honda announced that they would not release the Accord in a hybrid model.

At that time, people from Honda missed out on the hybrid growing market for hybrids because they did not take the time to research and analyze what the market wanted and needed. You can read more about this issue at Failure of Accord Hybrid is a Marketing Fiasco, posted by David Kiley on June 5, 2007.

This was a very expensive lesson for Honda. This fail could be prevented if the company had not jumped ahead to the tactical ideas for its campaign before building the foundation.

“ Identifying and understanding the perspective of stakeholders helps you in framing responsive messages and matching future actions to stakeholders needs.”  — Jeff Ansell