As experts in the fields of branding and marketing, we advise our clients to capture their authenticity, transparency, and relevance in order to resonate with audiences and trigger a call to action. Martin Luther King Jr. was a master at doing just that.

Public relations professionals can learn many things from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He employed a powerful strategy to promote his ideas, using a combination of mass media, storytelling, and grassroots efforts to inspire change. In 1963, 250,000 people gathered in the National Mall of Washington DC to see Dr. King speak. However, those people gathered when there were no invites, social media, or digital activations. Dr. King didn’t need that, but how?

As we celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. and reflect on the civil rights movement, Evolve & Co. explores what public relations professionals can learn from Dr. King.


Mastery of Language

In his many interviews and speeches, Dr. King showed us how to use the right words to motivate and involve people in a cause. The repetition of important themes and descriptions—such as concrete images—is vital in getting your point across. Using the right words to convey an idea and to motivate or involve others is essential for imparting a message.

Dr.. King was known for his eloquent, moving speeches, one of the most famous of which was delivered at the March on Washington in 1963. Dr. King’s sermons, speeches, and events such as the march helped him to inform, inspire, and educate people.

Words are just words if you do not have the right message behind it. You have to break down who you are and what your goal is to develop themes, tone, message, and ultimate goal. If you do not know those things, it will be difficult to effectively communicate your message and inspire people to change their attitude, behavior, or motivation. 


Utilizing all of the Mass Media

Dr. King’s message was aided by the sudden availability of mass media in the 1960s. Using this growing form of communication, Dr. King could reach a broad audience, both across America and around the world. Whether it was filming his speeches, capturing photography at the protests, or publishing his interviews, he utilized all mediums in order to gather the largest audience


Knowing Your Audience

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an influential communicator because he understood his audience’s needs better than anyone else. He didn’t exploit the differences between his potential audience segments, he spoke to their commonalities by promoting unity around shared principles. Dr. King realized that a winning message needed to appeal to people on an emotional level – that way, they could see themselves in the vision for America he had for them.

As communications professionals in the 21st century, we have a responsibility to know our audience. Today, America is more diverse than ever. Identity is no longer just about what’s visible to the naked eye. We have to look beyond our personal community, find those common bonds and consider what the receiving audiences will think when seeing a creative idea or taking an action online.



Kayla Goucher

Author Kayla Goucher

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