What PR lessons can we learn from St. Patrick?
St. Patrick was a legendary storyteller. He had a great story to tell about his faith to the people of Ireland, and he did it in a very unique way.
St. Patrick’s Challenge
In the year 432 after the Pope made St. Patrick a Bishop, the King of Ireland invited him for a visit. St. Patrick had to figure out how to tell his story of faith to a large audience (the people of Ireland) that had not heard such a story (because most of the Irish people were Druids), and he had to do it in such a way that people would listen, and perhaps believe.
Effective Use of Illustration
St. Patrick knew that the Druids considered the shamrock to be a sacred plant because the leaves of the plant formed a triad. So, he used the shamrock as an illustration. He explained that this sacred plant with three beautiful leaves was like the sacred mystery of the Trinity. You know what happened? People listened, and many believed. In fact, the King was so impressed, they say, that he immediately became a Christian, and then gave St. Patrick his permission to travel the country and tell everyone.
What does this have to do with Public Relations?
Everything. PR folk (and entrepreneurs) are bound to be professional storytellers. We are often given the responsibility of communicating a story to a large receiving public who may not have heard it before, and who may or may not be likely to be receptive.
Like St. Patrick, we’ve got to reach out to those influencers and early adopters, and remember to meet our audience where they are using language and creative illustrations that the audience can relate to.
We’ve got to take into careful consideration the communication style and informational needs of the receiving public, and customize our message accordingly using language and symbols with a shared frame of reference.
When it comes to getting the word out, we could all take a cue from St. Patrick. Think about it!
Copyright 2010, Tracy L. Teuscher, APR