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We are three weeks from the 2019 PRSA Western District Conference, which takes place in Phoenix April 10-12 and is being co-chaired by none other than our own Abbie S. Fink. The scheduled is a meaty one, featuring Park Howell, Gini Dietrich, Anthony W. D’Angelo, Ken Jacobs and several others. This is always my favorite professional development event of the year, as much for the new friendships and inside jokes made during the course of the event as the learning opportunities available during the actual program.

Leading up to the big event, I wanted to share some of my learnings from past events, starting with my favorite.

Dan Schnur, political commentator for CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and National Public Radio as well as a communications leader in many presidential campaigns, killed it with his keynote in 2012. During his speech, he talked about “salvageables” as it relates to one’s target audience.

A snippet:

When communicating a message, there are really only THREE types of audiences:

  • Saints – those who are on your side and ready to fight for your cause no matter what
  • Sinners – those who are on the opposite side and ready to fight against you no matter what
  • Salvageables – those who see both sides and are willing to listen to your messages before making a decision on something either way

And here’s the thing – we spend way too much time and money on the saints and sinners.


We like to communicate to the saints, and should in order to keep them saintly, but tend to over-communicate to the group because it makes us feel good. They reinforce what we think is right.

Conversely, we over communicate to the sinners because we believe that somehow, someway WE can change their core beliefs. But here is the thing – we can’t. No, not even you.

Instead, we should be investing our time and resources in the salvageables – those who actually WANT more information so they can make an informed decision about our client, brand, product, candidate, issue, et al.

It was such a “duh” moment, but I STILL find myself having to say “Alison, seek the salvageables” when stressing over a client campaign. I always want to get those “saints.” It’s the ultimate case of wanting what I can’t have, which I struggle with on and off the job.

How about you?

And who will I see at the Western District Conference in April?

Alison Bailin
Alison Bailin
Senior Account Executive Alison has a lot to say…about pretty much everything...all the time. From the current state of public relations to the social media impact on Shark Week to crisis communications in the sports world, Alison’s blogs are focused on “amusing through her PR musings,” and then some. Check out Alison's full bio

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