Jean Nidetch may not be a name that trips off the tongue or is up there with those you’d naturally regard as a ‘household name’.
But Jean Nidetch, whose death was announced this week, achieved phenomenal success by creating a brand and a surrounding PR story from her own personal battles.
The founder of what we know today as the worldwide diet brand Weight Watchers, Jean brought a dieting concept to the masses, and was never afraid to tell her own story of conquering her obesity and achieving the trim figure she’d always craved.
Jean, so it seems, had no hankering to become a major businesswoman when she first started contending with her weight issues in the early Sixties. However, she was keen to develop a strategy which worked for her – and then to share it with a small group of those in a similar state of life and mind.
Essentially, she had found the perfect recipe for a business model and a very self-fulfilling PR campaign – to build on what you know and to market the concept with empathy to a like-minded audience.
The reason this story is such a worthwhile lesson to anyone looking at PR activity around their own business, is because it emphasises how critical the power of ‘personal’ and ‘people’ is to any successful brand exposure.
Take any story in a newspaper or broadcast segment, and the element of ‘people’ is what that story hangs on best.
Whether you’re talking about finance, politics, education or agriculture, every news editor (for whatever distribution medium) is looking to find a way that they can share a story with their target audience which absolutely captures how it affects ‘real people’.
There’s no point in wanting to release a story about a new piece of tech and hoping the image of the shiny piece of metal is enough to sell itself. What your audience wants to know is how it affects THEIR LIFE. How does it improve their experience of an age-old problem? What’s the benefit?
Going back to the accomplishment of the late Mrs Nidetch (who by the way made it to a grand old age of 91!), she could have marketed packets of food and strict recipes and diet plans to the masses every minute of every day to no success – had she not made her marketing tactic about her own believable personal journey.
There’s no denying her tactic played a HUGE part in her securing a sale of Weight Watchers to Heinz of over $70 million!
So, with the Weight Watchers story in mind, here’s what to remember about keeping PR personal….
Be specific in who you’re reaching. Take time to consider who your target is, what they want to hear and why your service or product is genuinely going to be of benefit to them.
Communicate personally. This is easier than it was in the days of Ms Nidetch. Today you can target your customers in a defined and personal manner through appropriate e-marketing or encouraging their connection to your brand on social media.
Show yourself to be cause-conscious and empathetic. These things can really help a brand radiate personality in a world of many similar looking brands and offerings. By standing up for a campaign, backing a charity through your brand, or other such activity, you make your delivery more ‘personal’ and become that much more likeable as a result.
Be honest and share stories which are pertinent to those you’re reaching. Jean had her story, your customers or your founders have theirs. Story-tell and reflect ‘real life’ through your marketing efforts. People want to know you’re more than just a mass production brand without a soul!
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