Business Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Public Relations, Symbols and Emotional Connections

Good relationships are based on understanding one another, but what is the value of good business EQ in building a business?

Invaluable. Great businessmen (and women) understand that, regardless of the product or the service, they must have a positive relationship with the population that they serve, a relationship where the public sees the benefit in being a part of the relationship.

Great businessmen (and women) know that for a public to invest in a purchase, whether it is a big ticket item or a small one, they have to understand the populations’ need and desire.

Great businessmen (and women) know that if they are to influence people and change minds they have to first get the public to invest in the idea that is a part of the campaign or platform.

Great business men (and women) all have a high EQ, or emotional intelligence, which is simply managing one’s own emotions and that of others.

Why is EQ important?

Having a high EQ is always advantageous because ultimately many consumer choices begin with the way consumers feel, whether it is clothing, food, transportation, entertainment, etc, and being able to tap into these emotions can translate into sales for business!

Managing our personal emotions as individuals is simple, but how can business influence the way an entire population feels about their products and services?

From visuals of food taken on backgrounds that make the fare look more appealing or by tapping into our sense of nostalgia, businesses take a number of routes in getting the public hooked emotionally to their products.

The goal of doing so is to create an intimacy with the public that lasts long after the ad campaign has ended. Phrases like “Diamonds last forever” or “Have a Coke and a smile” linger in the public psyche decades after the campaign is over because the products are connected to personal emotional events and achievements that all people experience over a lifetime, events that include engagements, celebrations, graduations and birthdays.

In fact, as a part of a public relations campaign, businesses focus on four emotions—happiness, sadness, anger (disgust) and fear (surprise) in getting the public to respond to their product.

…But getting the public to respond to an emotion is not enough, good public relations connects emotions to images thatbecome symbols and this is what hooks the consumer!

How can symbols hook consumers emotionally to a product?

Symbols hook consumers emotionally to products by taking on a particular status.

In the case of food, some foods are perceived to be consumed by a particular group of people. Let’s look at steak, for example. For many years, the cattle industry connected this particular food to a region in the country—the southern United States, more specifically, Texas. Not only has this food achieved this status of being consumed by a particular region of the country, it was also stereotyped as being consumed by wealthy people.

Another example of the way products achieve certain statuses is the diamond ring. Again, years before DeBeers came on the scene with its campaign, diamonds achieved a certain status associated with wealth, regardless of how much diamonds were actually worth at the time. This one commodity has achieved such a status that DeBeers was able to connect the amount of love a man had for his fiancée by the size of the rock her gave her!

And let’s not forget the designer clothes industry....

While Levis Strauss brand jeans are a symbol of the hard-working, working class ethic, Jordache jeans of the early eighties and Guess jeans commonly worn today have established a certain status in the public psyche, especially for women who are fashion plates.

Basically, symbols are easy connections that consumers make with ideas regarding their world and their own existence.

For businesses….

Making these emotional connections to objects that take on particular statuses helps in creating a personality for the product.

This personality can be comprised of:

  • lighting or coloring used to package the product,
  • framing and composition
  • location and environment
  • even the font of the letters used in packaging

In the end, though, all of these efforts are the result of research that engages the business with the public consciousness in determining what is attractive to the consumer.

For public relations….

High EQ ultimately translates into organizations being able to quickly assess and understand their publics, so that they can engage with them more effectively in two-way relationships.


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