Recovering from Stumping to Sinners by Seeking Salvageables

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Several years ago, I wrote a blog post inspired by Dan Schnur, a former political commentator for CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and National Public Radio, which was focused on his concept of “saints” versus “sinners” versus “salvageables” when it comes to targeting a message.

When communicating a message, he shared with the PRSA Western District Conference in 2012; 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

All too often, he noted, we “over communicate” to the sinners because we believe that somehow, someway WE can change their core beliefs. (Come on – you know your ego falls into this trap from time to time, fellow PR person!).

But here is the thing – we can’t. No, not even you. Heck, not even moi!

I read yet another example of how true this sentiment truly is this week, courtesy of the American City Business Journals, who published a story online about Miller High Life.

Their core audience – men. Beer-drinking men. Middle-aged men. Beer-drinking, middle-aged men with Midwest backgrounds and/or values.

But, about 10 years ago, they took a chance and targeted a full campaign to – women. Artsy women. Artsy women who like words. Lots of words.

Talk about targeting their sinners!

Long story short – the campaign flopped and was scrapped quickly. Since then, their brand has been all men, all the time, going so far as to connect beer and beef in campaigns, a decidedly male combination.

However, this winter MillerCoors launched a new series of ads in the Midwest, this time focused on Millennials. (Read about the campaign here.)

You see, while Millennials aren’t their saints (the beer-drinking, Middle-aged types) or entirely sinners (wine-loving women and cocktail-loving hipsters who don’t believe beer exists unless it is of the craft variety). Technically, they fall somewhere in between – as salvageables.

According to Schnur, brands should invest 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.

I will be interested to see the results of the campaign, and if it will be expanded beyond the Midwest in coming months.

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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