I love a good story, and conveying messages and stories is a key part of what we do as PR professionals; you want to find the right combination of words that will get the point across and hopefully, inspire action. In a recent client meeting, we were about to dive into a discussion around messaging and how to best express what the company did. The client suggested that we first watch a TED talk that defined the way they wanted to do their business and tell their story.
The talk? Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire action. Sinek illustrates this through the concept of The Golden Circle.
WHAT: This is what you do- what you sell, what your job functions are.
HOW: The how’s are the things that set you apart- businesses like to call this the “unique selling proposition.” These are the examples of features, like cup holders in cars.
WHY: The reason you do what you do. Not “to make money,” because money is a result of what you do, but your purpose, cause, or belief. Why do you get out of bed each morning, why should anyone care what you’re doing?
Sinek uses Apple to illustrate how the message changes when you approach it from the inside versus outside of the circle.
If Apple were like everyone else and only tried to grab your attention from the outside with the what and the how:
- We make great computers
- Our computers are beautifully designed and simple to use. Want to buy one?
But when Apple starts with the why:
- We believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently.
- We challenge the status quo and think differently by making computers that are beautifully designed and simple to use.
- We make great computers. Want to buy one?
The former jumps straight into a call to action after only stating a few features. The message that actually speaks people into action is the one that makes them feel rapport- they believe in the same thing Apple believes in. The why.
Our inclination is to work from the outside of the circle to the inside, from what is the clearest and easiest to explain to the fuzziest and more intangible, sometimes avoiding it all together. You go directly to trying to explain the value you provide, but don’t tell your audience why they should care. What sets inspired leaders and compelling stories apart is when they think, act and communicate from the inside out. The strongest message forms when you present your why, and then support it with the what and the how.
The next time you sit down to draft a boilerplate or form a narrative, don’t forget to think about the why. Let’s start there to create stronger messages and tell better stories.
“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
By: Crystal Tao