The “Purpose” of “Emotions” in PR – Part II

In Part I of this series, we discussed the merit of using emotions in Public Relations. As I dwelled deeper on this topic, my conviction around this concept has become stronger. My strong belief is that emotions in your communications can ensure that customers stay loyal for a long haul.

Incidentally, during a recent press conference to announce Good Knight Gold Flash, India’s most powerful liquid vaporiser, Sunil Kataria, CEO of GCPL India and SAARC made a very pertinent statement. He said, “Brands are not built on price, they are built on emotions”. How true! It just validated the case I am trying to build. In fact brand Good Knight has been all about protection from mosquitoes. An emotion of feeling safe.

Another observation that all will agree is that customers actually define themselves through brands they use. For example, clothing brands, watch brands, choice of cars and nowadays – even the university they went to! It’s all about emotions – connections happen on an emotional level even in relationships between brands and people.

Consumers like to connect with brands they feel are reflections of their actual or aspired identity and when these emotional links to a brand are strong, emotions can run high. Take the example of Pepsi and Coke!

There are so many examples. Take Nike – the brand has used an emotion of heroism to inspire customers across the globe.

Another classic example that comes to my mind is the Dabur Vatika’s touching and inspirational “Brave and Beautiful” campaign that shows a woman who goes bald due to cancer and how her husband and colleagues show faith in her and bring a smile on her face.

My favourite though is Cinthol’s campaign, #ReadyForAwesome. And it’s not because I represent Godrej. The narrative takes sports as a metaphor to depict today’s women who are poised to own the world against all odds. It is supported with a narrative that captures the bold spirit of women, rejecting all societal constructs. It’s an ode to all women who want to achieve their dreams under any circumstance. The video immediately strikes an emotional connect and leaves one with thought provoking lines, urging every woman to overcome every obstacle and face the real world.

Many of my advertising friends opine that it is better to sell positive anticipation rather than anxiety. While I do feel positive emotions (Joy, hope, happiness) win most of the time, I guess sometimes negative emotions (fear, anger, anxiety) also work if they can evoke hope. Certain categories do need it. For example, life insurance. LIC and others talk about future when the protagonist is no more; child’s education, daughters marriage etc., reaffirming why life insurance is essential for protection against death.

Narratives with emotions that can evoke fear, feeling of danger or make one anxious have been used with significant success. For example, Saffola communication raises the anxiety of a wife towards her husband’s stress full life that could lead to “lifestyle” diseases at a young age. I also still remember the Saffola Ad, where apparently the husband is being taken into an operation theatre with an ambulance siren as the background sound.

A classic example of using negative emotions is brand “Hit”, a mosquito killer. The brand has used the emotion of fear (of disease – Malaria, Dengue etc.) and anger (due to disturbed sleep by mosquitoes) to come out with effective campaigns that has made it such a huge brand today.

Every communicator knows that branding is incredibly important – it enables customers familiar with your brand to distinguish it amongst a sea of competitors. The success of all these brands is about much more than the logo, it’s about forming an emotional connection with their customers.

India is a country where emotions run high; see an IPL match and you shall realise. Emotion truly is a catalyst for a purchase decision. However, emotional PR or messaging for a brand is not a cake walk. It is not as simple as identifying an emotion, creating the message and expect sales to roll in!

In part III of this series, I shall try and touch upon ways of doing emotional PR, basis my experience.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

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Sujit M Patil, ABC
Sujit is a IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) accredited business communicators and a three time winner of the IABC International Gold Quill award. He has been listed as India’s top ten men in corporate communications by Reputation Today and featured on the PR Week Global Power Book, the definitive guide to PR industry’s most influential operators around the world. From 2018 to 2022, he has been listed every year on Provoke media (erstwhile Holmes Report) Influence 100 research and listing of the world’s most influential in-house marketing and communications professionals. Sujit is a part of the prestigious Arthur W Page Society..

Sujit is a qualified Instrumentation engineer with MBA in marketing and a Diploma in advertising and PR. He is a regular speaker and jury at various national and international bodies such as the World Communication Forum, Davos, AMEC, ICCO, PR Newsweek Asia, Public Affairs Asia, etc. He volunteers as a guest faculty at various B-Schools, is a weekend farmer, loves travelling, understanding cultures and experimenting with new cuisines. He is passionate about Sparrow conservation.

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