“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Something happens when I listen to new PR clients in an intake call. I love it when they speak stream-of-consciousness because even though I’m listening to their unique story, I’m also hearing what’s universal about all humans. I listen to the minute details of what brought them to seek PR and my only job is to bridge their life experience with what will make a difference for all humans. Without public interest, there is no PR story, AKA “earned editorial value.” Let’s unpack this a bit…
You’ve most likely had this experience, too, while listening to an elementary school child. Just recall a moment when you’ve listened intently to a young person. They gave you details on what happened at their school or the park. Then, they made meaning into how this was an important detail to share with you. “It was awesome! So awesome! You should’ve been there,” (or something like that) they exclaimed. Regardless of what that one teacher said who made you believe you weren’t creative, or a poor storyteller, people are natural storytellers, just as all people are creative. Although when my friend Kate tells stories around a campfire, around 2 glasses of wine, her story endings start to fizzle. But that has more to do with the alcohol than her ability to tell a great story!
Let’s organize the chaos around you. In so doing, you’ll find your story becomes more clear and you’ll begin to see how your story fits inside our whole global story of humanity.
This is all publicists have ever done. This is all politicians, community leaders, and those in the press have ever done. Answering, “How do we make sense of this chaos?” is the basis of any strong marketing campaign.
The pandemic is upon us as I write this blog entry. Due to my 83-year-old mother now living with me in the Great Smoky Mountains, I started to self-quarantine on Leap Day, February 29, 2020. To watch the news headlines, one can see simply how we humans are making sense of this super-virus and history is writing itself. In this week’s headlines:
“Lockdowns around the world bring rise in domestic violence” (The Guardian)
“The Nordic Way to Economic Rescue” (The New York Times)
“Understanding the Economic Shock of Coronavirus” (Harvard Business Review)
“Unemployment during coronavirus: The psychology of job loss” (BBC News)
Fundamental to all humans is the drive to survive. In a pandemic, when basic needs like food, shelter, safety, and more are threatened, the stories we tell each other to make meaning of the chaos, will naturally coalesce around stories of survival. There will be the question of “how we will make or lose money,” and naturally the “health and well-being” about “what this means for you” will be through-lines to inherent story lines of survival. The public interest, naturally, is one of survival.
In times when survival isn’t really a question on the table, there will be more “fluff” stories about who’s marrying whom and how that person is doing that and can you believe that’s happening, how shocking! How wonderful! How moving!
So, when chaos is around you, how do you make sense of it? Do what I do in client intake calls: listen first. What is the story being told around you? Every person hears something different. Your industry, family, community, and hobbies all color your stories in a different way than the rest of us. Then write, speak, and share the meaning you’re making.
Organizing chaos is central to the work of publicists. The father of PR, Edward Bernays, talks about controlling the habits and opinions of the masses in his book, Propaganda, in chapter 2:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
What I encourage each and every one of Wasabi Publicity’s clients to do is use that manipulation for the good of human-kind.
So many corporate interests tumbling in the chaos and influencing our personal stories have ulterior motives that don’t lift us up; rather, they step on our necks. Pay attention to the stories you consume. The stories you consume will consume you, and then guess what? You’re repeating the stories of a corporation, leader, or influencer who has ulterior motives. So, listen to the chaos around you. Then, find a private place and write about your personal story. Or find a trusted friend, consultant, or publicist to help you shape the story that truly motivates. This is the juice, my friend. It’s what makes survival possible and ultimately thriving — not just surviving.
? #SurviveAndThrive #ManipulateMassesForGood