It’s tough these days to get your message to your customers, but there is a simple lesson that offers you your best shot to lift your voice above the fray of the multiple messages that assault your target market every day—and night. In this fragmented media world where TV, radio, tablets and smart phones each gobble huge amounts of your customers’ time, it is a challenge to make certain your message claims the greatest ‘share of mind.’ While each platform has its unique value to your customer, there is one common factor; one question you should ask yourself before you begin any public relations message; “Why should anyone care about what I have to say?” The answer is simple if you will use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as your guide to answering it.
It’s startling how many companies forget to ask this question and instead launch messages that tout their products without explaining the value to the target audience. The big brag factor feels terrific, but if it doesn’t tell your potential customer why it matters—your customer won’t care. So before you send out your advisory or press release to any media you have to recognize that the people who populate today’s newsrooms often serve many masters. Live coverage technology coupled with instant internet updates married to rampant growth in smart phone penetration among consumers force these journalists to live and work in a never-ending 24/7 news and information cycle. In that world, they have far less time to read and digest the information you send them. Add to that the fact that these technologies have dramatically increased the number of communications infiltrating today’s newsrooms and media dissemination centers. So how do you break through the noise?
You have to ask; what value does this story bring to the end customer? Then you have to answer that question clearly and succinctly. There are many reasons why people consume news and information. They range from enlightenment to entertainment. Where does your message reverberate? For example—let’s suppose you are a fictional tire manufacturer. Your company’s just developed a new tire that features a revolutionary man-made substance guaranteed to reduce wear and tear on tires. You’re thrilled. Your scientists are the best! The new “polymer-magical-gee-whiz” invention is the bomb—and you want everyone to know about it. Yes, it is an interesting science story—and if you pitch it to a science magazine that’s great; but there’s an even bigger audience out there. Your new product reduces tire wear and tear; thanks to this new material the average family can keep their tires on the car twice as long. That’s a positive and important economic story. Tires aren’t cheap. Still another benefit is that tests prove the new material allows the tires to handle wet weather much better than traditional tires. Tests show a dramatic reduction in automobile accidents due to hydroplaning. Your great hypothetical invention has an important and measurable safety feature for the American family. Once you take a look at the statistics of the number of people who lose their lives in accidents due to loss of vehicle control during heavy rains—you’ve got a story with wide appeal. Bottom line—you have a story that has the potential to save lives. That matters. One of the foundations of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid is safety. Your product enhances a person’s safety. That’s your topline message. This is information that you, and the media care about. Now, imagine writing that release. Imagine the tone and tenor of your follow up conversations.
This question can be difficult to answer; just as our mythical new tire material possessed several interesting assets, it took a bit of Q & A to deduce the greatest intrinsic value to the broadest audience. So the next time you need to get a message to the media, ask yourself the question, “Why should anyone care about what I have to say?” If you get stuck answering it, just refer to Maslow’s pyramid. It’s a clear and definite guide that can help ensure you talk to your target market about what matters to them—not what matters to you. As best-selling author John C. Maxwell once said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Cantrell White Public Relations, a division of Client Focused Media (CFM)