South Lie Southwest

When writing a story or blog post, I find it’s always best to write about something you personally find extremely interesting and want to share with others. Thinking about my SXSW experience, I immediately gravitated toward one subject in particular. That subject is based off the session “How to Tell the Truth Like a Liar.” Put simply, how do you influence your audiences’ thinking in a healthy way?

Is this about deception or just twisting your words? No, it’s about sharing your company’s truth or message to audiences even if they have a different truth. The most basic principle to understand here is that every single person on this planet lives a different truth. Your truth is based on experiences, perceptions and how your brain simulates everything around you. Your brain is in a constant state of simulation, predicting what is going to happen next. Think of it as your brain constantly predicting every single cause and effect situation you face. You recall past experiences and biases to make informed decisions on how to handle the current situation.

So what feels true to us?

  • The familiar
  • The detailed
  • The simple
  • The concrete
  • The memorable
  • The consistent
  • The coherent

If there are so many different factors affecting people’s truth, then how do you get your truth out there as a marketer or PR professional? The first step is empathy. Try to understand how your target audience feels and why they feel that way. Genuine empathy is the key to influencing an audience’s truth. Once you understand the audience’s perspective, find a shared belief and start your messaging there. This is much less abrasive than talking at your audience and hoping to influence them.

Never blatantly challenge your audience’s truth, as humans are all predisposed to reject strong opposition to their beliefs. Finding common ground is the key. Once you have related to your audience, their trust in what you have to say will increase dramatically and you can start actually selling them on your company’s truth or message. When you break it down, trust is the conduit of influence, and how you frame your messaging is as important as the messaging itself.

Using the ideas listed above when laying out your messages will put you in a prime spot to influence your audience’s truth and trust in your message. Actually influencing your audience may take several tries, so don’t be afraid to start the whole process over again if it doesn’t work at first.

Don’t forget, the key is empathy – understanding your audience and genuinely trying to connect with them. Once you understand that, you will be telling the truth like a liar in no time.

Andrew Williams is a PR & social media strategist at MCC. He works to improve clients' social media presence and engagement while providing various public relations services from writing press releases to securing articles in publications. Andrew received a bachelor's degree in public relations from The University of Texas at Austin and is a devout supporter of UT athletics. A lover of movies and video games, Andrew is always ready to talk about the newest trend in the tech world.

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