Empathy in PR: A hand-in-hand combination

Empathy improves teamwork, helps avoid and resolve conflicts and fosters innovation – Katie Paine, CEO of Paine Publishing

WHEN it comes to PR, empathy is critical. Only by better understanding of our clients as well as our target audience, can we begin to understand the best route to communicate. After all, how can we understand communications if we do not empathize towards people?

Empathy is not required for effective PR; it is an essential component of the whole trade. If you do not understand your target market, you are sure to falter in your communication. For example, Coca-Cola fell into this trap in 2004 when they launched C2, a drink that was a cross between normal and Diet Coke. This move bombed since there was no market demand for it. In fact, this blunder cost the company $ 50 million and exemplifies the need to understand your market thoroughly before venturing into any form of communication. 

Striking a balance is the key

The rewards and satisfaction associated with the business of Public Relations does not come easy. You have to continuously stay abreast of deadlines, concerning both the media as well as your clients. At the same time, you have to meet the expectations of your job and disseminate important information to the different media platforms, in a bid to give your clients the best mileage across all platforms. This is where empathy comes in – it becomes critical to strike the right balance to obtain the best results. PR agencies that strike the right cord between reflecting the corporate empathy as well as empathy during media pitching have been proven to be more successful than the others. Respect for your clients and the media as well as the associated deadlines are the key to the sweet taste of success.


Kevin Murray, the head of a reputed PR firm agrees that “being able to emphasize with your audience is critical today”. However, what’s important to note is the fact that understanding others does not imply agreeing with them all the time. As Murray states, “You do not have to agree all the time but you must understand each other to make better-informed decisions.”

So, how can you be more empathetic?

  • Develop the art of listening and build a genuine interest in the affairs of your clients and the needs of the media.

  • When pitching your services, look forward to feedback. This will help in understanding their demands and expectations.

  • Understanding the underlying emotions that trigger your customers is a sure way to humanize any campaign. .

  • While interacting with journalists, send e-mails that are well researched and of authentic interest to them. This will imply to the journalist that you are sincerely engaged with them and will help to build rapport in the long run.

  • Do not forget to be understanding towards your colleagues and team members. Your professional ecosystem will be dependent on your level of interaction with your team members. A team that bonds together performs better!

We always emphasize on empathy!

At Communications 2.0, PR is our bedrock and empathy our strongest instrument for change. Our vibrant, result-oriented team has always used this vital tool of empathy to create successful campaigns and honour business relations with our clients as well as the media. We perceive empathy as “imagination, brought down to earth” since we, as PR professionals, need to imagine the lives of others – because we would only be able to deliver narrowly targeted campaigns if we did not! Having built our reputation by being a key player in the industry for over 15 years now, we are always ready to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes – show interest, ask questions, find out what is important for them and what makes them tick. Our dedication, perseverance and keen understanding of the business with a special ability to generate clear, proven, exponential ROI has been appreciated by our clients and the media alike.

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