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5 things Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us about PR

By Lisa Goldsberry

1-19-Martin-Luther-King-ftr.jpgMake your dreams of more success a reality by following his examples

Most people know that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the face of racial relations and civil rights in this country. What you may not realize is that he used the tools and power of public relations to do it.

As we celebrate his life and reflect on his impact, Axia Public Relations explores exactly how Dr. King used PR throughout the civil rights movement. Here, we share ways you can adopt some of his methods for your own PR success.

  1. Using speeches to raise awareness.

One thing we remember most about Dr. King was his eloquent and moving speeches, like the famous I Have a Dream speech during the March on Washington. He used sermons, speeches and events like this to inform, inspire and educate.

Public speaking opportunities can help your company increase visibility and position you as a thought-leader in your industry. Sharing your knowledge is a great way to help your customers; get them engaged with your field or product; and move them through the sales cycle faster.

  1. Overcoming adversity.

King experienced numerous obstacles and challenges throughout his campaign. Violence perpetrated against his followers, threats against his family and even an FBI operation attempting to discredit him didn’t deter Dr. King from his goals and what he sought to achieve.

This is a strong lesson for your own company. You will inevitably experience crises, negative reviews and maybe even one or two epic fails. Don’t let these events destroy your company. Use each disaster as a teachable moment and learn from the mistake to prevent it from happening again. Additionally, put plans in place, such as a crisis communication plan, so that everyone will know how to handle the next predicament.

  1. Changing public perception.

Until events such as the arrest of Rosa Parks for disobeying Montgomery’s bus segregation ordinance, many people believed race relations in this country were just fine. In most places, “separate but equal” was simply a way of life that no one questioned. For the civil rights movement to be effective, King knew that had to change.

It can be challenging to change the public’s way of thinking about your brand. This is particularly difficult when there are bigger, more well-known players in your industry or field. You can use social media to listen to what people are saying and address any misconceptions about your company. If you notice a trend in complaints, work to fix the issue. It’s also vital to combat negative reviews by promoting your good deeds and positive information.

  1. Using the media to your advantage.

There is no doubt that getting support from the majority of people was a crucial element in turning things around for Dr. King. No one can support a struggle if they don’t know it’s happening. By harnessing the strength and influence of the news media, King was able to spread his message of equality and peaceful resistance.

People won’t purchase from you if they don’t know who you are and how you can improve their lives. You can use media to help distribute your information to your target audience. Find the most effective channels of communication and hire a trained spokesperson to be the face of your company. This is how you can demonstrate passion for your product and tell your company’s story. Build relationships with journalists and industry influencers to get your name out there.

  1. Mastery of language.

Whether written in a letter from the Birmingham jail or during his many interviews, Dr. King showed us how to use the right words to motivate and involve people in a cause. Setting the proper tone and repeating themes and descriptions to evoke concrete images are all vital in getting your point across.

When it comes to spreading your company’s message, don’t take chances. Hire a PR firm to help you. Perhaps the most significant lesson you can learn from Dr. King is to never give up. At Axia Public Relations, we know there is perhaps only one guarantee in PR: If you do nothing, you’ll get nothing. We position our clients in the best light for increased momentum and greatest advantage. To find out more, contact us or download our e-book Maximizing Your Public Relations Investment today.

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lisag-new.jpgLisa Goldsberry is a blogger for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business and technology PR. Lisa has worked for Axia since December 2013. Learn more about Lisa Goldsberry. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.








Featured image credit: Creative Commons

Topics: public relations

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