What PR lessons can we learn from St. Patrick?

Quite a few, it turns out. You see, St. Patrick was a legendary story teller. He had a great story to tell about his faith to the people of Ireland.

St. Patrick, the Story Teller

In the year 432 after the Pope made him a Bishop, the King of Ireland invited St. Patrick for a visit. The good St. Patrick had to figure out how to tell his story of faith to a large audience (the people of Ireland) that had never 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 be inclined to 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 – God in three persons. 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, you say?

Everything, I say. PR folk are bound to be professional story tellers. We are often given the responsibility of communicating a story to a large receiving public who may not have heard our story before and who may not be likely to be very receptive.

Like the good St. Patrick, we’ve got to reach out to those innovators and early adopters, and remember to meet our audience where they are by using language and creative illustrations that the audience can relate to so the message is not just delivered but received. Our goal is to educate, inform and impact attitudes and opinions that will ultimately lead to a measurable and meaningful change.  That means that we’ve got to take into careful consideration the communication style and informational needs of the receiving public and customize our messaging 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 who took the time to tell his story in a way that his listeners could understand and relate to in a meaningful way. Think about it!

Copyright 2010, Tracy L. Teuscher, The Buzz Maker! LLC


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