In the last part of my blog, I discussed why we have become such emotional junkies, what it means for the PR world, and whether we should be worried about it. While we need to use emotion-led content to distinguish our clients from the masses and heighten engagement, we also need to face up to some tricky questions about where to draw the line between engaging and manipulating.
Here are my top five tips on how to get ethical about emotional content in ads and campaigns:
- Sensitivity: Some emotions are simply off limits, and this is where it’s important to think about sensitivity. There is a huge difference between appealing to human values and exploiting human suffering to pull at heart strings, which is particularly important to bear in mind for any charity or CSR campaigns. Always put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
- Relevance: Always ensure that your emotional content makes sense in light of your brand’s offering and identity, rather than just using irrelevant emotional messages to boost sales. If the content you are creating does not reflect your brand then you are doing it wrong, and irrelevant emotional ploys are also likely to spark suspicion in consumers.
- Tone: Any emotional content must be genuine and heartfelt, not preachy or judgemental. We all know how important it is for each brand to create its own tone of voice when it comes to communication, so while being creative and innovative is always good, it is important to stay true to your tone of voice. This allows your target audience to engage with the emotions in a real way, and relate to your main messages and your brand identity.
- Reason: Emotional content can quickly become sentimental or even outright cheesy, which is not the aim of the game. In fact, at the end of 2017 The American Council of Emotionally Manipulative Advertisers issued a special directive banning ‘cry before you buy’ commercials in response to Windex’s manipulative ‘The Story of Lucy’ campaign. Carefully crafted emotional content is never over-stated — keep it reasonable.
- Positivity: Negative emotions like guilt, negativity, sadness or shame should never be preyed on by emotion-led content. In fact, ‘Joy Marketing’ has been a major element in the success of campaigns like the ‘Pepsi Generations’ Superbowl campaign, which linked consumers to their past, present and future in a joyful way that created a sense of closeness between the brand, its audience, and their friends and family.
Harnessing the power of emotion is about knowing where to draw the line; engage don’t manipulate, reach out don’t overwhelm, and spread positivity not negativity.
Rima Al Jareh is Senior Account Executive at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations. An independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai and offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. | www.cbpr.me