Many of us in PR describe ourselves as story-tellers. Our clients have a story to tell, and our job is to tell it. But, most of the time, story-telling is just the first step. If we focus too much attention on the story, it’s easy to lose sight of the real prize – i.e., the action or outcome that the story is designed to motivate.
By keeping the end-goal firmly in mind, we make ourselves accountable – and indispensible. We also change the focus of our work from “process” to “outcome.” When we define ourselves as story-tellers, our job is to tell our story as loudly possible. When we hold ourselves accountable for outcomes, our job becomes much more. We must understand our end-audience well enough to develop programs that inspire them to take action.
At this year’s 2010 TedMed conference in San Diego, several speakers – Ann Barker, Deepak Chopra, Ray Cronise, Alexandra Drane, Thomas Goetz and John Mackey – talked about behavior change and the factors that motivate groups and individuals to take action. Some of the speakers focused on patient populations and health behaviors. Others spoke about individuals and decision patterns. All agreed that programs that motivate action share five basic characteristics:
- Clarity. Information motivates action when it’s clear, relevant and persuasive. Try to simplify and personalize data and to highlight clear choices.
- Measurability. Goals make behavior change real. Set milestones and measure progress.
- Achievability. Break the desired action down into small, manageable steps.
- Community. Create a forum for support and information sharing.
- Encouragement. Build confidence. While fear can be a powerful catalyst, self-confidence and desire are far better long-term motivators.
Story-telling is a powerful way to get the message out. But it is a means to an end, not
an end in itself.
What tips do you have for maintaining an outcomes-focus?