The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) premiered their “Ever Wonder” commercial this week, in a fight to keep the U.S. Postal Service alive. Thanks to the proliferation of e-mail use, the Internet, and other package services, the USPS is reportedly $4.1 billion in debt. For the 8 million people employed by USPS, this rapid decline causes a serious problem for their future.
Enter the newest APWU campaign which attempts to inform the American public of their situation and urge union members to contact their legislators and take action. The team behind the newest commercial clearly did one of the most important steps of PR and strategic communications planning — research — and used that research to create an effective commercial.
The APWU listened to their audience (in this case, the American public) to determine what types of ideas and attitudes individuals held about the USPS. According to APWU President Cliff Guffey, the public assumed that USPS was funded through their taxes and that the service was seeking bailout funds from the government. With the stories of AIG and Chrysler bailouts still fresh in their minds, the public is still generally protective of their tax money and who it goes to. Fully aware of this, Guffey and team created an ad that highlighted what USPS does on a daily basis, addressed these misperceptions, and ended with a simple, yet blunt sentiment: Ever wonder what this costs you as a taxpayer? Not a single cent.
Today’s lesson: Know your audience by listening to them, and then responding to their ideas, attitudes, and perceptions. Sometimes the best type of PR occurs when your company or organization is quiet and simply listens to your audience. As communication professionals, we so often want to take action and continue pushing messages out to our audience. However, as Marcus Tullius Cicero once said, “Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.”