Engaging CultureChristian Media

Are You Making an Emotional Connection with Your Audience?

I’ve worked with lots of non-profit and religious organizations over the years, and I can tell you that the most successful relationships are the ones where we were able to emotionally connect with the audience. I recently walked a way from a religious client who was creating a very cool looking weekly TV program. In fact, it was one of the hippest and most contemporary inspirational programs on television – the kind we’d love to have on our client reel. Their directors and editors did a great job creating very original spots, promos, and other segments, and the overall show looked great.

But when the organization’s leader (and program speaker) asked our team to come onboard to help them with response, I got a deaf ear from the creative team. Although we tried to show them that you can be cool, hip, and contemporary and still get a response, they would have nothing to do with us.

They preferred to have fun. So they kept producing great looking shows that never connected with the audience. Some people in the business started calling it “The coolest looking show that nobody watches.”

Flashy editing may get the audience’s attention initially – but it doesn’t develop a lasting relationship. If you don’t establish an emotional connection, all the fancy graphics and cool editing amount to nothing.

Filmmaker Ingmar Bergman said, “Facts go straight to the head, but stories go straight to the heart.” He understood the power of stories to make that emotional connection. Likewise, neurologist Donald Calne puts it brilliantly: “The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action, while reason leads to conclusions.”

There are a number of great radio ministries that expound on the Bible from an academic or reasoned perspective. They’re good programs, and I enjoy listening to them. But their frustrated leadership will ask me why they don’t get a response. I tell them it’s because they appeal to reason – which is wonderful, but reason doesn’t make a connection with an audience.

Like it or not, audience response is based on emotion. That doesn’t mean you have to whip them up hysterically like some people do, but you do have to appeal to their emotions. Let’s face it – you don’t over-analyze the clothes you buy, the car you drive, or the food you order at a restaurant – for the most part, you make an emotional decision.

It’s no different getting an audience to respond to your message. Touch them emotionally, and you’ll make a genuine, lasting, connection.

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One Comment

  1. There is a definite fine-line between looking cool and being effective.

    I see so many examples of the 'new and hip' applied incorrectly.

    People, Phil can help you find the balance between cool and prompting a good ROI.

    So many…so clueless…

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