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Prima donna street performer’s outburst offers PR lesson, Part 3

This street performance artist has a business model of "pay me now, I'll perform later." While it may work for him, it may not be the best approach for PR professionals.
This street performance artist has a business model of "pay me now, I'll perform later." While it may work for him, it may not be the best approach for PR professionals.
Inside Edge PR

In the first two segments of this three-part series, we examined the actions of a street performer that my family recently came across on The Magnificent Mile in Chicago.

Spray-painted silver, dressed in flashy attire and sporting a bright red hair-do, he cut a striking figure as he stood perfectly still atop a box. There he waited for passers-by to make donations, which according to a sign he had posted were the fuel that put him into motion.

Alas, the money didn’t come quickly or significantly enough to his liking. So he stepped down to the sidewalk and had a bit of a prima donna moment:

“I’m going to take a break,” he declared loudly while shaking his head. “I guess you just don’t have it.”

Little was he aware that he had provided three lessons for Chicago marketing and public relations professionals. The first two:

*Our Audience is in a Continual State of Flux—so keep that truth in mind and use it to your advantage.
*Our Audience May Need to See a Little More—so don’t be shy about showing them something of value. It doesn’t mean you’re getting ripped off.

In this third, and final, installment, we dig into perhaps the most important lesson unwittingly conveyed by our prima donna street performer. It’s so significant because it transcends the first-impression scenario associated with the first two lessons.

In fact, this principle relates to every step in every relationship you ever have:

Our Audience Will Always Remember How We Made Them Feel

It’s easy to get angry or frustrated when things don’t go our way. It’s much tougher, and wiser, to exercise self-control and make the best of a less-than-ideal situation.

So rather than vent at a prospect who doesn’t “have it” (to use the street performer’s terminology), keep in mind the emotion that you want people to walk away with. Years ago, Amway Triple Diamond Greg Duncan shared a memorable remark about the very natural desire to lecture, criticize or complain about people who didn't show up at an agreed-upon time and place: "Get in line."

In other words, Duncan told a group of people at a World Wide Group conference in Chicago, that's the overwhelmingly common reaction that those "no shows" would expect to get. Instead, he advised, challenge them to meet a standard of accountability that you perceive they truly possess. There's a chance that they will have an about-face and rise to the challenge.

With that and any other scenario, not only is it much more profitable but it simply feels a lot better to have people feeling positive, rather than negative, about themselves, about you and about whatever it was you were discussing.

Relevant case in point: Pharrell’s hit song, “Happy,” preceded our catching sight of the street performer and laid the groundwork for a feel-good experience.

The memory for everyone involved would have had a much more pleasant aftertaste if the performer had wrapped up the interaction with something other than contempt. One alternative:

“I’m going to take a break. You have been a great audience. If you have enjoyed yourself, please consider leaving a little money behind. In a few minutes, I will be back in action.”

When it comes to that sort of PR sense, though, I guess he just didn’t have it.