In his most viewed video, the “Invisible Chair Magic Trick,” comedic prankster and magician Julius Dein draws a steady stream of amused onlookers as he settles into a seat along a busy pedestrian walkway. Dein is sitting comfortably—but with no sign of a chair, as he appears suspended in the air, obliviously turning the pages of a newspaper.
The young Briton, who used to perform magic tricks at weddings and bar mitzvahs, has since attained internet fame by marrying playful charm with the power of social media platforms, amassing more than 20 million online subscribers and a global following in just two years.
A departure from the old-school magician, Dein seeks to engage his fans and pokes fun at himself, questioning whether he’s the “world’s worst magician” when one laughing woman declares, “It’s fake!” as she sees one of his tricks exposed. Another clip captures a recent trip to India, where throngs of cheering fans, cell phones in the air, mobilized for Dein’s appearance.
It’s easy to become distracted by sophisticated software and marketing strategies that tout the perks of SEO analysis, lead conversions and concierge onboarding. In their quest to garner attention too many marketers resort to the unsavory click-bait, gimmicky and “personalized” mass email tactics that seem to dominate inboxes and social media channels. But Dein, selling nothing more than a moment of wonder and a chance to laugh, is a reminder that what really lies at the heart of a successful PR campaign is a human connection.
Passion, humor and the ability to get people to believe that anything’s possible can create extraordinary forums. People are more likely to connect if they understand what motivates you, and helping to forge that bond is one of the organic strengths of the PR industry. Don’t launch your campaign with, “This is what I sell.” Begin with, “This is what I believe.” Give your target market a rallying cry, reveal a path to a better life, or demonstrate your contribution to the common good. Your audience will see through baiting tactics. But if you build an idea, they will come.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when shaping a message to mobilize the masses:
Rise above the cacophony.
Your campaign should cut marketing clutter through noise reduction. And your tactics shouldn’t “trick” people into responding. Instead of mimicking a personal connection, make sure you’re actually making one.
Think of your campaign as a kinetic force.
What is your brand ethos, and what kind of trajectory does it have? How does it tap into an existing belief system, resonate with a shifting attitude, or build momentum for a growing cause? Give your audience an anthem and a higher purpose.
Your “passion” shouldn’t be manufactured.
If you don’t have a social justice platform, don’t say you do. Your audience will detect insincerity.
Make your conversation a national one.
Your “movement” doesn’t have to be socially aware, politically charged or even complicated, as Dein can attest. You don’t have to be an activist, but it helps to have an activist mindset. Craft a strong call-to-action with potent language, and sell it without equivocation. It doesn’t hurt to also look at successful activist campaigns, such as the Parkland, Fla. students whose highly effective PR campaign has resulted in gun policy reforms that have for years evaded other advocates.
Don’t overthink it.
Sometimes too many tentacles can be the death of an idea. The ALS Association raised $115 million with a simple campaign that went viral. The association’s story? Record a video of yourself dumping a bucket of ice over your head or someone else’s.
The right mobilizing platform can withstand some risk.
Don’t dilute your message or cling to the safety of sanitized conformity. Don’t be afraid to embrace the polemic or become the contrarian voice. Use bold, powerful language. Celebrate your cause and make your differences known.