Tuesday Tip: Sometimes the Simplest Message Can Resonate the Most

In public relations, there’s often a very common formula for success. It looks like this:

Simplicity = Perfection

I was thinking about this over the weekend as I began to see reminders that next month marks the 40th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice.” The seemingly impossible victory of the young U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team over the seemingly unbeatable (and four-time defending gold medal champion) Soviet Union team in Lake Placid, NY on February 22, 1980 during the Winter Olympics.

We’ll likely hear more about the amazing upset win as the 40th anniversary draws even closer in the weeks to come, but for anyone who saw that game (on tape-delay, of course, because it wasn’t broadcast live), has watched it since or has ever read anything about it, no doubt the first thing that comes to mind are ABC Sports’ Al Michaels’ epochal words when the victory was finally achieved:

“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

It was only six words, uttered in about two seconds. But nothing—not the essays and columns written about the game in the days and weeks to come, not the countless interviews with players, not the numerous documentaries done on the team or even a major motion picture could ever capture the essence of that team or the run it went on to win the gold medal better than that. Nothing. Every inch of the journey, the struggle, the improbability, the teamwork, the camaraderie, the national swell of pride that grew around that team could be summed up in those six words.

That’s perfection. And it’s a great lesson for public relations endeavors as well.

Here’s an example. We have a client that is a leading senior care provider in Connecticut, and they had a wonderful story a little more than a year ago of a gentleman who was finally able to return home after nearly two years in their care. He returned home at Christmastime, making good on a wish he had made earlier in the year.

And that is exactly how we pitched the story to a local TV station: “Home for the holidays.” Four words that everyone could understand, empathize with and appreciate. The pitch was well-received and right before Christmas, the station was able to air a report of this gentleman’s journey home, entitled (of course) “Home for the Holidays.” And it was a wonderful and moving story that made people feel good.

Sometimes even the best of us can wrack our brains for just the right message or pitch, and we can make ourselves crazy trying to think it up. When all along something as simple as, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” or “Home for the holidays” is right there in front of us.

So today’s lesson is a simple one. Trust in the power of simplicity. Sometimes it’s exactly what people need to see and hear.

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