Take it from Iron Man, Your PR Needs Some Emotion


Iron Man not Gold-Titanium Man

“Iron Man, that’s kind of catchy.  It’s got a ring to it.  I mean it’s not technically accurate, because it's a gold, titanium alloy, but its kind of evocative imagery anyway.” – Tony Stark, Iron Man

Iron Man is catchy.  Gold-Titanium Man not so much.  In tech PR, our goal is to be technically accurate, but to maximize our impact we should also strive to evoke emotion.

People buy based on emotion, but too many times we’re so focused on getting the technology right that we don’t consider the emotional reasons people are buying.

That point was brought home to me last weekend during the Iron Man movie mania that engulfed our household. Both Iron Man and Iron Man 2 are highly PR-oriented movies filled with press conferences, magazine covers, tradeshows and all the trappings of a life in the spotlight.    The quote above comes at the end of the first movie, when Tony Stark, the main protagonist, is reading the newspaper account of his exploits after the big battle is won.  A banner headline reads: “Who is Iron Man?”

At DJA, one way we tap into the emotional appeal of a product is to separate the consideration of a product’s market/customer impact from the discussion of its features and functionality.  By looking at the impact of the product, we can better develop the emotional side of the messaging.

The counter argument often is: “Our product is bought on speeds and feeds – we don’t need anything more.”  That may be true in the procurement phase, but that product must get onto a shortlist first. And that involves a human looking for some kind of emotional benefit from your product.   Another argument is that inspiring the customer is the job of the sales staff, not the marketer.   I argue that PR, as a prime influence in the awareness phase of selling, should bring the complete message to the customer to drive more leads and also to make sales’ job easier.

Actually, the biggest challenge with introducing emotion into a PR campaign is to do it well.  This means to not abuse adjectives to add false emotion and also to not overuse the term solution as a way to show the product delivers benefits beyond the datasheet.

In movies, characters get to live out their emotion.  The screenwriter’s mantra is to show, not tell.  In PR, it’s not that cut and dry.  When dealing with an arcane or technical product, it can be difficult to find the emotional benefit.  But every product with any real benefit does make someone’s life easier, and if that can be isolated and communicated, your message will resonate with more customers and be more successful.

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