Back in 1967, the Beatles were singing “All you need is Love” on the first global television link with a simple message, to be understood by all nationalities. So is love all that we need? Fortunately, for all of us in the Public Relations and Marketing industry this is not the case, otherwise we simply wouldn’t be able to alter the public’s mind or behaviour . It is, therefore, vital to examine which of our target audience’s needs we have to accommodate in order to establish a successful communication with them.
The majority of PR practitioners want to achieve long term behavioural change, hence the need to align their communication strategies accordingly. Over the years, many academics have researched what makes people do things that they normally wouldn’t do. The ongoing battle between emotional and rational appeal continues to confuse communicators. Some support that emotion can evaporate quickly whilst others debate that using logic in PR and Marketing can be a long-winded process.
Packard (2007) argues that motivation research seeks to discover what influences people in making choices. This led him to eight compelling needs, including the need for emotional security, the feeling of self importance, the feeling of being valued by others and the need for an extension of one’s perceived power. Feig (2006) also explored the verbal and/ or visual appeals that cause receivers to become emotionally involved in a message rather than respond rationally. According to his findings, there is a “hot button” (emotional pull) that triggers an emotion in a receiver and makes him execute certain actions. Some of the psychological motivations that he identified to be determinant to all human decisions were: the excitement of discovery, the desire to get the best and the desire to become smarter. Even though it is impossible to capture persuasion through just two theories of motivation, it is evident that people do not always know what they want as they don’t usually act logically but they want to fulfil certain emotional needs instead.
Just take any PR or Marketing campaign and simply break down their key messages . They all repeatedly employ either the emotional, or to a certain extent, the rational appeal to influence the receivers. Apple are a prime example within the technology industry. When the first iPhone was launched back in 2007, its communication campaign sold the dream. It inspired so many feelings to the consumers: the desire to get the best, the reinventing of oneself through technology, the need to become smarter. By putting communication at the heart of the business, Apple have become one of the most innovative leaders within the technology industry and as a result, it was named the UK’s coolest brand in November 2012.
Through the emotional pattern of persuasion, we cause the receivers of our messages to become personally involved in an idea, rather than respond rationally. Is it not hard to constantly seek ways of triggering emotions in order to influence the public?
Should successful communicators modify public behaviour through logical or emotional appeal?
What are your thoughts?
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