What Nelson Mandela Can Teach PR Pros about Good Communication

By Esha Lotey

The Hoffman Agency, London

Nelson Mandela is the poster child for passionate communication.

I recently read an article posted on LinkedIn, which cleverly and succinctly examines how Nelson Mandela became known as a genius communicator. This is particularly apparent throughout his political career and during the numerous challenges he faced when securing public approval as the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary.

Mandela serves as a role model for the following basic principle: if you passionately believe in something, you must have the finesse to effectively communicate your beliefs to your audience.

Mandela’s message, which is regarded as one of his most famous speeches in history, was delivered during his 1964 trial for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government.

It was a speech that people remembered throughout his 27 excruciating years in prison – one that expounded on the morals for everyone to “live together” in a democratic and free society “in harmony and with equal opportunities.”

The article posted on LinkedIn highlights the 3 Cs that Mandela executed with a great degree of professionalism and excellence during his years as the president: Care, Communication and Commitment. PR professionals can take a cue from these three points and use them to hone their craft. Here’s how:

1. Care: Mandela devoted himself to restoring peace and was willing to die for his ideals. Likewise, communication professionals need to infuse care into all that they do. By caring about a client’s message, one can more effectively communicate it. Not showing interest, or displaying a lack of caring, will make for lacklustre pitches and less-than-staggering PR results.

2. Communication: Mandela took great care in choosing particular words to communicate his message. Similarly, PR pros need to select the words (and images) that will give their client’s message the most weight. It’s our job to communicate clearly and effectively, but more than that, we should invest time in crafting compelling stories that deliver oomph and impact to an audience and instil them with a desire to act.

3. Commitment: Nelson Mandela took no half-measures – he was fully devoted to his humanitarian and civil rights pursuits. A PR professional also needs to be committed to any tasks he/she takes on. This devotion and hard work will help achieve the results desired by clients and their stakeholders.

With a little care, commitment and communication, PR professionals can better themselves. What are some other winning traits of good communicators?

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