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Dan SchnurI got an email from PRSA this week noting that the Early Bird Deadline to register for the PRSA Western District Conference, which will take place March 19-21 in Los Angeles, is fast approaching.

This got me to thinking about all the insight I’ve gleaned from this annual regional “meeting of the PR minds” from across Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii and Nevada.

Among the most valuable nuggets of wisdom I ever got was from Dan Schnur, a former political commentator for CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and National Public Radio, as well as a communications leader in many presidential campaigns and current USC professor.

His advice, which I initially posted here while at the 2012 conference, focused on the mistake many of us make when considering who to target our communications efforts to in the first place.

His take – 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.

Love it. Loved Dan – even if he is a USC guy. (GO IRISH!)

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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