There is a great TEDTalk by Simon Sinek from September 2009 entitled How great leaders inspire action. In it Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers. The video has had over 7.3 million views, but if that wasn’t you I’d recommend you spend 18 minutes checking it out.
But, what does this all have to do with PR?
Well, simply – messaging. Which seems to be the heart of PR, for if the message is wrong – the PR campaign will fail.
Most messaging that we produce travels from the outside of the circles to the inside – following the path of the blue arrow:
Example 1: We have the best computers for you to buy, and we make them by really concentrating on visual lines to make them beautiful, which is why you’re going to love them.
This ‘blue line messaging’ is very familiar to traditional PR folks and especially hits home to those who have experience in the feature/benefit writings of the technology industry.
Lets see what happens when we turn this on its head and we do some ‘red line messaging’:
Example 2: We like to think differently, which is why we spend a lot of effort in designing beautiful looking computers, which you are going to love.
The subject and the verbs are largely the same (the sentence basically uses the same words to say the same thing), but the order of the sentiment is different.
By giving the reader of the message a cause or a belief, the rest of the message becomes more believable and is received more favorably.
Sinek’s talk goes into some pretty competing reasons why this is so, but for the PR attention deficit; you just need to know that it works – so use it!