Millennials/the young get a bad rap for being lazy, but about 99.999999% of the population is lazy on a regular basis (this is hyperbole, but you get my drift). Most people do not like to go out of their way to do something extra they don’t have to. The point of PR is to get your audience engaged with your brand. So, the question is: how do you target the lazy and get them engaged with your message?
Targeting the lazy was the subject of a talk by Tom Rouse, Junior Creative Director at Hotwire PR, at the latest PRCA Ignite event on 13 June (the event was at Twitter HQ and was super cool, the other talks I heard were absolutely smashing). I got to talk to Tom a bit after the event about his very interesting topic.
Tom pointed out the the digital industry doesn’t allow laziness–that is, it focuses on the few people who aren’t lazy and actively participate with brands, content, and data. Most if not all PR people belong in this category–we love to create things. Tom argued that this was why passive TV advertising works and why YouTube and Instagram are dominating over Snapchat: these platforms ask nothing of you. The first screen you see when you open Snapchat is a camera, which means you’re asked to take a picture, maybe put a funny caption or filter on it, and then send it to your limited network of friends on the app. In comparison, Instagram (and Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) show you a screen full of other people’s content. These apps allow you to use the app lazily, without contributing at all.
People like the familiar, which seems unfortunate given how often our world changes and almost nothing is the same day to day. People rely on brands to be familiar so that they can quickly make decisions–this is where reputation and trust come in. Making changes to your brand will always be noticed and either celebrated or criticized (the lazy will have no comment at all). For example, the changes Twitter just made to their platform had hilarious reactions, mostly in meme form (side note, like this article points out, brands were very annoyed at all their logos being cropped by the redesign).
I think instead of worrying about targeting the lazy to get them engaged, digital PR needs to amp up the creativity. Successful campaigns are not always measured in how much engagement they get (although this is important) but by how creative they are. Passive media consumption via video (especially instant play video) should be embraced and used strategically with different kinds of campaign elements. Content should be customized to each platform, whether social or traditional media.
A nice platitude that fits here is a quote that’s often attributed to Bill Gates (though that’s probably false):
I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.
The power is with the lazy people. They’re the biggest audience out there that’s not bothered at all by your campaign or your brand’s newest stunt. Who cares about the people most likely to engage? You don’t have to work hard for their engagement. The lazy people are creative in different ways than hyperactive PR people who think everyone else wants to engage just as much as they do.