Britain leaving the European Union.
The Trump presidency.
Leonardo DiCaprio getting his first Oscar.
The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series.
2016 will go down as the Year of the Impossible, when previously unimaginable events became reality. Without powerful public relations efforts, none of these would have been possible. OK, except for DiCaprio …. I’m kidding! Hollywood award campaigns are bolstered by massive, expensive and time-consuming publicity efforts. The awards voters are susceptible to charm, argument, reason, star power and bias, just like everyone else. The Cubs, on the other hand, broke the curse on their own.
To be fair, not all the impossible campaigns of 2016 solely used PR. Many experts in marketing, voter suppression, voter enthusiasm, advertising, social media and other tools practiced their arts. But public relations, the skills of promoting products, causes and services via earned media, appeared to make the most difference.
Whether you agree with the results or not, the unlikely success stories of the events of 2016 deserve serious study. In simple terms, here are the common factors from these campaigns. If you’re trying to accomplish something unique for 2017, here’s a handy guide, Five Planning Steps for the Impossible:
1. Write down your dream – a new product, a new service, a change in public opinion for a new stadium or rebuilding a public park, more fame and speaking engagements for you or your client, don’t be shy.
2. Organize your core group. Who supports you right now?
3. Create, then test, the messages that will resonate beyond the next layer of influence, the group that is sympathetic towards you but doesn’t support you yet.
1. Determine your outreach strategy – advertising, personal meetings, events (free and paid) earned media, social media, etc. based on what you feel can be effective and what you can afford. This step may include fundraising.
2. What’s the biggest hurdle and how will you overcome it? Dynamic personality? Riding the wave of discontent? (see Brexit, Trump). Align with bigger issue? (see marriage equality equating to civil rights.) Cost-benefit analysis (see prison reform, legalized marijuana vs war on drugs.)
The events of 2016 produced some great lessons for entrepreneurs, PR pros, students and dreamers everywhere. So what’s next thanks to the Power of PR?
In this climate, it’s not only possible, it may be inevitable. As Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times notes, “ … the election has inspired talk of California’s seceding from the United States. The nascent campaign….