Mastering emotional intelligence in PR for authentic brand building and meaningful connections

by | Jul 26, 2023 | Public Relations

The digital world is distracting, and only great products won’t cut it. You need something tangible to make your venture newsworthy. 

People connect with brands that recognize their emotions and show empathy. So an emotional appeal in your media pitch is fundamental for engagement and visibility. 

Enter emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence in PR captures media interest by making your audience’s sentiment work for you. It boosts relatability and authenticity—two fundamental parts of establishing meaningful connections. 

Emotional intelligence in PR lets your team captivate audiences with compelling stories. This drives effective communication strategies, navigates the complexities of customer preferences, and makes your brand memorable.

However, a sound approach is crucial to make a multi-dimensional subject like emotional intelligence work. In today’s article, we share how to use EI in your PR strategy and drive better marketing ROI.

Understanding emotional intelligence in PR

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, interpret, and use emotions to make communication effective and constructive. It helps you evaluate sentiments and respond to others’ emotions appropriately. 

The key components of emotional intelligence include:

  • Self-awareness: The ability to understand personal strengths and limitations and stay true to your values.
  • Self-regulation: The ability to control emotional response according to the situation and act with integrity. 
  • Empathy: The ability to understand and be sensitive about what other people are feeling. 
  • Social skills: The ability to be confident and communicate in a way ‌that resonates with people. By developing social skills through EI, people learn to embrace change and make it work for them. 

People take an interest in subjects that directly impact them. Emotional intelligence in PR enables you to talk about issues important to your audience and boosts marketing performance by giving visibility. 

Here are some benefits of an AI-infused PR strategy: 

  • Adds social awareness to marketing, boosting relatability. 
  • Makes your PR team aware of strengths and weaknesses.
  • Induces strong emotional responses to your media pitches, increasing engagement and awareness. 
  • Shows the brand values its audience’s emotions, driving brand loyalty and advocacy. 
  • Makes you purpose-driven, helping you stand out among competitors. 

Authentic brand building

Building a strong brand image involves strategies that make people believe a brand delivers genuine products and services, makes legitimate promises to customers, and stays true to its values. 

In the age of social media, companies have nowhere to hide. Customers will evaluate you through Google reviews, review networks, and other readily available digital resources. Hence, your PR has to be authentic to be a likable and successful brand. 

You showcase your honest and customer-centric approach by discussing issues that hit home for your audience instead of gimmicky ads. This makes you seem authentic and builds trust.

The authentic brand building shows business integrity and your commitment to transparency. By applying emotional intelligence in PR, you attract positive press and promote an honest brand to your audience.

For example, MetLife produced the below ad with the hashtag #AllTogetherPossible. The video talks about how the brand understands “the unique backgrounds, skills, perspectives, and voices” together can make a big difference to our world. It showcases cheerful people enjoying the small joys of life while acknowledging challenges. The content reflects the business’s purpose and showcases actual employees, enhancing its authenticity. 

The brand also reiterates its team’s commitment to collaborate, innovate and deliver what matters. The ad is emotionally fulfilling and purpose-driven and nudges people to build a better and happier life with a culture of fraternity and respect.

Developing self-awareness in PR

Communication is key to effective public relations. 

Since PR professionals deal with varied emotions while handling a brand’s public interaction, losing your temper is a no-no because it leads to severe media backlash and reflects poorly on the company. 

That’s why self-awareness is a must in public relations. It lets PR professionals understand their emotions and regulate their responses, even in extreme situations. 

Self-aware professionals can also identify their strengths and weaknesses‌. This way, they optimize their skills and keep their shortcomings from holding them back. They can reframe negative situations to let your brand receive praise. 

Here are some techniques for developing self-awareness: 

  • Offer guided learning and seminars on self-awareness. 
  • Provide weekly therapy sessions to stay in sync with feelings and improve mental health. 
  • Offer regular feedback with data. Appreciate the good work, show areas of improvement, and communicate how to improve. 
  • Ask your PR team to evaluate performance to encourage self-reflection. 

By practicing self-awareness, PR professionals can understand your values and align their strategies accordingly. This way, they can detect newsworthy traits without compromising your identity.

Practicing self-regulation in PR

No matter how sensitive your media pitch is, you can’t predict your audience’s reactions. Conflicts and rumors may arise from time to time. In such situations, a PR professional must stay calm and handle the situation without compromising the brand’s image. 

Some practical self-regulation techniques include

  • Self-reflection on inner biases and judgment to adapt better.
  • Letting go of past mistakes and being mindful of the present to develop a solution-oriented approach. 
  • Have healthy stress-relieving habits like reading, exercising, and meditating. 
  • Taking regular breaks to manage stress better. 

Self-regulation in a PR team can maintain a consistent and positive image in the media. It lets them de-escalate public relations crises successfully. They can regulate emotions, control the brand’s response, and manage the immense stress of a PR crisis better.

Empathy in PR: Building meaningful connections

Building meaningful relations with the public is a PR team’s primary aim. For that, developing empathy is crucial. 

People value being understood, and empathy is the driving force behind that connection. For that, PR professionals need to dive deep into audience emotions. 

In addition, people want to feel that their opinions are valued, which is the case for many brands. You can learn their insights and gain empathy by creating customer satisfaction surveys.

By practicing empathy, PR professionals can:

  • Run customer-centric promotions. 
  • See issues from the audience’s perspective. 
  • Design sensitive and engaging PR strategies. 
  • Win the audience’s trust. 
  • Associate positive emotions with the brand.

Here’s how you can cultivate empathy: 

  • Practice active listening.
  • Read character-driven fiction to understand the motivations of the outside world. 
  • Be open to different opinions.
  • Ask questions.

Social skills in PR: Effective communication and relationship-building

Social skills dictate the quality of interpersonal relationships. As PR is about fostering meaningful connections with the public, honing your people skills is necessary.

With refined social skills, you can:

  • Create captivating and emotionally appealing PR content.
  • Gain better exposure and build lasting and meaningful relationships with effective personalization.
  • Improve networking through clear communication. 
  • Maintain seamless information flow and synergy across the team.  

Subway’s new campaign, titled “Eat Fresh Refresh”, is an excellent example of effective PR communication. The campaign promoted this slight tweak to the brand’s trusted tagline, “Eat Fresh,” and signified Subway’s light rebranding and menu change. 

For example, this Subway video features Tom Brady holding a loaf of bread, saying, “Smells so good, you can almost taste it.” Here, Subway took a dig at the usual perfume ads while promoting its new ingredients and options. The campaign used humor to communicate with the public and make the rebranding memorable.

Integrating emotional intelligence into PR strategies

Here are some ways to integrate EI into your public relations strategies: 

  • Assess your current PR strategies against emotional intelligence components. 
  • Run audience surveys to gather their opinions on your past PR releases. 
  • Find brand advocates with social listening and examine audience response. 
  • Use sentiment analysis to dive deep into customer feedback and understand the actual emotions behind them. 
  • Regularly monitor customer interactions.
  • Examine current events and how they impact your target audience. 
  • Run charity events and volunteer programs to portray a purpose-driven image. 
  • In a PR crisis, avoid being defensive and understand the concerns of those affected. 
  • Offer employees workshops and seminars on mindfulness, active listening, social skills, etc.
  • Practice employee satisfaction strategies to keep their spirits high and start a culture of transparency and empathy.  

To leverage emotional intelligence in PR, brands often rely on positive emotions like joy and laughter. Following this path, Coca-Cola drove immense success with its “Share a Coke” campaign.

Mastering emotional intelligence in PR for authentic brand building and meaningful connections

Internally known as “Project Connect,” this first-of-its-kind Coca-Cola campaign leveraged the power of customization in a playful, social way. They swapped out Coke’s branding with the 150 most popular Australian first names.

After the campaign’s first launch, the brand sold over 250 million personalized Coke bottles in the first three months. The impact was so immense that the brand rolled out the campaign in other countries. 

Measurement and evaluation of emotional intelligence in PR

While some people naturally possess a high EI quotient, many develop it with practice. To progress, monitor and evaluate its effectiveness in PR regularly. To do this, you can create a process flow diagram.

Regularly monitor the emotional intelligence of PR professionals. Conduct psychometric tests like 

  • Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Tests. 
  • Self-report Emotional Intelligence Test.
  • Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire.
  • Situational Test of Emotional Management and Understanding (STEM and STEU).

Make EI assessments a part of performance evaluation. That way, your PR professionals will get regular updates on their progress and improve. 


In the PR industry, emotional intelligence is a necessity. With practice and clever application, EI in PR activities can build an authentic brand and create lasting connections. Remember to:

  • Focus on sharing authentic experiences and stories in media pitches. 
  • Use AI-powered social listening and sentiment analysis tools to get accurate insights. 
  • Develop self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills in your workforce. 
  • Regularly measure the EI-infused PR strategy’s impact and improve accordingly. 

Mehdi Hussen
Mehdi Hussen is a SaaS marketing and organic growth consultant. He helps SaaS businesses drive organic growth and customer acquisition through SEO and data-driven content marketing strategies. Mehdi spends his spare time musing about startup growth strategies, personal productivity, and remote work. Connect with him through Twitter or LinkedIn.