Revolutionary Measures

Lessons on reaching a divided audience in marketing and PR

It feels like an understatement to say we live in turbulent, fractious times. And while previously the 24 hour news cycle may seem to have focused on trivia, now it’s a case of blink and you’ll miss something important. For example, we’ve just seen the shortest ever stint as prime minister, with Liz Truss famously outlasted by a supermarket lettuce.

Image by Amy S from Pixabay

There’s also a growing divergence when it comes to how people react to news – any statement or announcement seems to attract equal parts admiration and condemnation. Even introducing new, more sustainable, packaging for Quality Street chocolates has people up in arms. And, on the subject of lettuce, I’ve just seen people complain about a tweet put out by Lidl piggybacking on the PM’s resignation saying they are “disgusted” at the supermarket “feeling the need to do politics.”

It feels that everyone is a target for someone and that often crowds, particularly on social media, rapidly become a baying mob. So as marketers and PR people should we just accept this and forget trying to influence those who may not have a positive (or informed) view of our brand or product? To me, that feels like a wasted opportunity – if we only focus on people that like us, how do you spread your message or grow your sales?

Taking a step back, I’ve been thinking about people and brands that are universally admired, and what marketers can learn from them. The obvious example is the late Queen – even those against the concept of the monarchy itself saw her as someone genuinely dedicated to her role and serving the people. So, what can we learn from her reign? I think it comes down to four things:

1          Build a reputation through your actions

Even in her later, frailer years the Queen had a full programme of activities, criss-crossing the country (and the globe) to lend her support and presence to communities and groups. She was solid, dependable, and always there, while still willing to show humour (such as her skydive with James Bond at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics). That reputation meant that when the royal family did face challenges (such as around Charles’ divorce or the behaviour of Prince Andrew), there was a well of support to draw on that kept overall reputation positive.

2          Cultivate an air of mystery

Famously, the monarch’s role is not to share their opinions on any contentious issue. This means not getting involved in fast-moving events and allows them to cultivate an air of mystery. Essentially, everyone could believe that the Queen was on their side, and shared similar opinions as she acted as a mirror to reflect back their own thoughts. 

3          Listen and respond

Despite the widespread picture of the Queen as an unchanging figurehead, she was open to making tough decisions when circumstances required. Take stripping Prince Andrew of his official titles or removing Prince Harry from the working royal family. These were not decisions made lightly or as a knee-jerk reaction, but considered responses taken after gauging the mood of the country and overall public opinion.

4          Be everywhere

Like most people, for me the Queen was an omnipresent part of my life, who was always there, even if you weren’t actively paying attention to what she was doing. Of course, it helps if your picture is on the stamps, bank notes and coins, but you don’t need to be a monarch to demonstrate dependability and take a place in everyone’s lives. I think this was the reason, above all, for the tremendous outpouring of grief seen when she died – she had made herself part of everyone’s lives and her death left a gap.

To head off any criticism I’m not a particular royalist and clearly no brand has the unique attributes and position of the Queen. However, there are definitely lessons that can be learnt and applied to how we all market and communicate. Or would you rather be a lettuce?

October 21, 2022 - Posted by | Marketing, PR, Social Media | , , , , , ,

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