This is the fifth of six articles in the “Six PR Tactics that Grab Attention Like ‘Orange is the New Black’” series.

Today’s edition considers the element of emotion, and how to harness this valuable tool to inspire a winning communications campaign.

Poet Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

Think back to a childhood experience. Whether it’s playing Little League baseball, a family vacation or your first broken heart. Odds are you don’t remember the specifics of the experience. You probably don’t remember what was said to you or the imagery in detail, but you probably do recall the overarching feeling. You remember it being good, bad, care-free or even stressful.

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OITNB shows you the present — what is happening behind the bars of the prison. But it also shows you what happened in the past. It harnesses emotion by telling each character’s story. It appeals to pathos as it lets you inside the minds and hearts of the characters, showing how their actions today are influenced by experience.

Each episode’s story has the power to make the audience empathize. It makes you laugh or happy or angry or sad. In the end, you’re left feeling connected, invested and above all, entertained. 

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For example, the Save the Children Foundation sent out two different letters asking for donations. One of the letters cited statistics showing the massive number of children currently suffering and in dire need of financial support. The other letter told the story of a starving 7-year-old African girl named Rokia and explained how a donation would improve her life. 

The Rokia letter received double the donations of the stats letter. The letter about the young girl moved the reader empathize with her. It also helped the reader understand the true benefit of a donation. Storytelling brings emotion into the decision-making process, and can weigh as much as or more than concrete facts. 

Appealing to emotion opens up the right side of the brain where decision making is not as clear and finite as it is in the left lobe. Feelings play a huge role in decision making — sometimes an even bigger role than logic. It’s important for a campaign (whether it’s PR, advertising or marketing) to appeal to logic: the simple, concrete characteristics of a product, but also emotion: a more complex tug on the heartstrings.

When planning the message of a campaign, think about how the audience will benefit from your product or service. What will be the result of spending money on your product? Tell a story that speaks to the audience on a human level, making them feel emotionally connected to your brand. 

For example, a vacation to Key West is many things. It’s basking in the sunlight on Smathers beach, but it’s also Dad getting away from the office to build a sandcastle with Daughter. It’s watching the vibrant sunset at Mallory Square, but it’s also laughing at your friend who got suckered into a street performer’s show. 

You can empathize with the father who never gets to spend time with his daughter. You can visualize laughing at your friend in the street show, and the lifelong jokes that will result. While beautiful beaches and street shows are a tangible benefit when you visit Key West, it’s the intangible benefits that really motivate people to take a vacation. People want to spend time with their family or friends, make memories and lift their spirits. That is the real benefit. 

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Emotion bonds the audience to the product. It’s the root of brand personality and brand loyalty. Emotion is something that is never forgotten. It’s a central human experience; a lasting impression that’s made to stick.

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