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Just Kidding: Humour’s place in PR

The Power of Humour in PR

Humour is one of the most effective human-bonding tools and PR is an industry with that at its core — this interconnects the two. However, when one talks of PR, humour is not really considered a suitable component.

Think PR, and you think of overtly formal and straight-laced discussions where agencies and clients are found chasing deadlines, creating campaigns, securing coverage, and reaping communication benefits. So, where does humour, the most essential element of communication, fit into this description?

The Impact of Humour in Branding

Let us look at some stats. A report by WARC — the world’s leading marketing intelligence agency — titled Effective Content Strategy Report 2018, includes humour among the top four common themes in branded editorial-style content that can demonstrate a business outcome. The report found that emotion and humour were the creative strategies of nearly a third — 32% — of shortlisted entries. This in itself proves that if used effectively, humour not only can build brand images but generate economic benefits and other intangible rewards like customer loyalty.

Wit as a PR Professional

In my nearly 10 years of work experience where I have been on almost all sides of mass communication, I have seen wit work its magic! My emails are full of emoticons and one-liners, and my out-of-office notices have made people wait for my return just to tell me how entertained they were. Now isn’t that what PR, or rather the entire game of communications, is supposed to be about – bonding and lasting strong relationships?

Appropriate humour can work wonders. Inappropriate humour can also work wonders — but in a not-so-pleasant manner.

Hence, be very careful while using this tool with your choice of words and expressions. Certain situations will remain terrible, no matter how funny your joke is, and the audience will neither laugh nor applaud.

Adding Comedy to Your PR Work

So here is what you can do to add comedy to your work and your personality as a PR professional:

  1. Long meetings: Sounds boring, right? Spice it up with humour. A little bout of collective laughter can help you refresh and go back to the mundane stuff with revived energy. Keep some light one-liners handy and as soon as you spot a yawn or sense a disinterest, just share one.
  2. Keep your emails lively: Emails are probably one of the most direct and to-the-point communication implements. But no rulebook of communication says that it is unlawful to use some emoticons here and there or to pepper your email with a little witticism. Try this and see the responses for yourself. This is a tried-and-tested method – which I have lived by for 10 years of my career – without any negative feedback.
  3. Presentations/meetings: Keep them sparkling and lively. Use doodles, create some cartoons, use emojis! Trust me, people will look forward to your presentation, even if it’s about some binary, digit-dotted programming language that troubleshoots big data intricacies.
  4. Big smiles and hand-waves: No one ever lost a client or irked a manager due to happy greetings. This can change the way people look at you. One of the best methods to share your positive energy with people is with a warm handshake and a wide, glistening smile. No second thoughts!
  5. When in communication, communicate: If it is a long day at the office, talk to someone around you. It could be anyone: if you are from editorial, speak to someone from digital; if you are from management, speak to someone from IT. Try conversing with someone you haven’t spoken to before. What better way of unwinding and connecting  than being comically equipped with punchlines, quips, or light-hearted jokes?

You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian to use a little humour in your day-to-day professional life. These simple small steps will have a visible impact, adding not just to your professional qualities, but enhancing positive outcomes.

Keep trying and smile… yes, the one on your face right now!

Ritika Sharma is English Editor at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. |