04 Apr The Public Relations Punchline: SO WHAT? WHO CARES?
I’ll confess, often when I am in a meeting with a client I am thinking, “So what? Who cares?” But I assure you, it is for the betterment of our client communications. At LT Public Relations, we address these questions with every client, whether we are working on a crisis communications strategy, or a public relations plan for long-term reputation management.
“So what + Who cares?” is the best formula I have found for keeping a client’s specific audience in mind, whether we are drafting a news release or a social media post. If you can answer these two questions wholeheartedly, then the result = smart communications.
Of course, it is not a novel idea to keep your audience in mind when you are writing something. That is PR 101. Yet these two (pretty loaded) questions can be the sounding board to help you understand your audience, what you want to say and why you are saying it.
Rather than being cavalier, this question helps you hit your audience between the eyes with the important information that they should come away knowing. This is not only nice, it’s essential and generally done through the headline or first paragraph. It’s the classic journalism “inverted pyramid” approach: Put good stuff first and explain it later.
From a reader’s perspective, if I am receiving something you wrote, I want it tied to me. I want to know why I am getting it and what’s the salient point? You can use the “Five W’s and One H” approach to clearly determine the “So What” of your message:
- What do you want to communicate?
- Who will say the message?
- When will you say it?
- Where will you say it?
- How will you say it?
The old-school method of pushing all the messages and communication elements across to your audience that you want to relay as a marketing professional won’t work these days. Now you have to consider whether your target audience is actually listening. More importantly, you must ensure that the messages do indeed resonate with them. A successful communications equation happens only if these considerations work in tandem.
This question helps you overly tie information to your reader rather than provide an overarching soliloquy of details. Consider the target audience you know. Who are they? What keeps them up at night? Why should they be concerned about your communications? Relate everything you write to them. If you know and understand them, they can resonate with your message.
When it comes to internal communications, for example, what you write to the board is different than what you communicate to staff. LTPR’s Kevin Hartman addressed external communications last March in his blog “News? What News?” advising quality over quantity when putting out press releases.
Is it news? Will your audience care? Does it impact the majority of your customers, or just a few? These are a few questions you need to ask to determine if a release should be created. I’m a firm believer in the less is more approach. Fewer, spot-on releases that meet your customers’ needs and have a wide reach are much better than dozens of useless fluff. Do better, not more.
Finally, an essential component of bringing it all together is your “call to action.” It is important to be as clear as possible about what you are asking your audience to do. Here is ours: Utilize this “So what? Who cares?” strategy in all of your communications going forward to keep your readers interested, maintain credibility and score the point.