John Maxwell once said that “we live in a culture that rewards image- often over integrity. We promote people who appear to have their act together, and encourage others to do the same”. With this in mind, it makes sense that leaders might err on the side of caution when it comes to content marketing and PR by only sharing their achievements or highlight reel. However, one of the biggest lessons that we can glean from Simone Biles’ actions at the Olympics is that leadership does not require us to break ourselves in the name of perfection. Not only is it okay to be human, it’s okay not to be okay and show it!
This is important from a PR perspective, especially, because- contrary to the cultural beliefs alluded to by Maxwell, research shows that when leaders at the top of their game (like Biles) are transparent and vulnerable by “revealing that [they] aren’t perfect, it makes [them] more relatable” and therefore more likeable. This is known as the pratfall effect and is especially important in business because, as the old adage says, people will only do business with people that they know, like and trust.
Since PR (or Public Relations) is, by definition, action that leaders can take to promote “goodwill between [themselves] and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc,” the pratfall effect is clearly something that you will want to harness. So how can you do this?
1. Sharing a blooper reel
The antithesis of a highlight reel is a blooper reel. Within the entertainment industry, this usually takes the form of a series of out-takes which showcase the mistakes or mishaps that may have occurred while actors were filming a particular show or movie. You can incorporate this into your content marketing strategy by sharing behind the scenes footage of out-takes or mishaps that happened while shooting video or audio content, for example, on social media. You can also do this by describing a blooper within the captions of your social media posts and/or extending this idea to give more value to your target audience through blog posts, emails or writing articles for another platform.
2. Sharing your mistakes
They say “experience is the greatest teacher;” so another way to give your audience your blooper reel is to share some of the mistakes that you made in your journey to becoming the leader that you are today and how you overcame them. Not only does this allow you to use the pratfall effect to your advantage, it shows those coming up behind you what NOT to do- saving them time and heartache in the process. Not only is this a great way to promote the effectiveness of your strategy, service or product, it’s also a great way to show your audience that you understand their pain points because you were once them. This will also serve as inspirational and motivational content for them.
3. Sharing your limiting beliefs (past and present)
You can pull the curtain back even further on your mistakes by revealing the limiting beliefs or myths that you bought into leading up to them. You can then share what you did to move passed them. If these are things that you still struggle with, you can share content marketing posts about:
- What you are currently doing
- Progress reports
- The lessons that you have learned in your journey to overcoming them so far
You could also incorporate or repurpose your blooper reel content by turning them into a montage to show how overcoming your limiting beliefs led to your progressive improvement.
4. Sharing your struggles
Sometimes struggles are not internal, like limiting belief systems, they are external, like circumstances. Do you have circumstances outside of your control that you refused to let stop you in the past or are currently refusing to? Whether it’s single parenthood, a disability, racism, sexism, mental health issues or anything in between, share it! As they say, “representation matters”. Not only will such posts make you more relatable- they will help others see that if you can achieve despite them, they can do it too.
5. Sharing your disappointments
Speaking of external circumstances, sometimes your ability to fulfil your mission as leader is not just dependent on you- it’s dependent on others. Sometimes this means that things don’t always go the way that we want them to go. For example, experiencing setbacks in the form of no’s, delays or mishaps. These aspects of everyday life are also worth commenting on because- like sharing your struggles- it will not only humanise you but give your audience an insight into how you handle these situations and rise above them and, by default, how they can do it too.
It takes courage to take off your superhero cape and lay it aside publicly as a leader- especially with the constant pressure to be perfect. Even so, it’s important to remember that your blooper reel is just as valid as your highlight reel when it comes to building know, like and trust with your target audience through content marketing and PR. It is my hope that this article will help you to implement this within your current strategy.