3 Things Communicators Can Learn From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

17 Jan

As someone who is extremely passionate about leadership, I have always been a huge fan of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK). When I think of a leadership style I plan to mirror in the near future, it is of one similar to MLK’s charismatic style. Sit back and think about all

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

of the managers you’ve worked with in the past. Was there one who was naturally full of energy and positive reinforcement that you loved being around and jumped to assist whenever they needed something? If so, it’s probably because you fell in love with that manager’s charismatic leadership style. MLK humbly accepted the offer to lead a movement that put him, his family and his followers’ lives at risk on a daily basis. I could spend all day bragging on MLK because I officially drunk the kool-aid but in his honor, I want to share some things communicators can learn from him:

A Well-Researched and Properly Structured Campaign Can Change Perceptions

In this industry, it is often our job to change the way people perceive brands. This is a very challenging job if people have been “stuck in their ways” for a long period of time. Sadly, this was the campaign MLK and his team had to run in order to fight for human rights. He and his team researched what was being done in the past, the most effective channels of communication and the backgrounds of potential spokespeople to be the face of the campaign. Through his research, he discovered violence would not do anything but intensify the problems in the community. Rallies and marches proved to be very effective channels of communication because of all the media coverage they attracted and college students, political figures and community leaders were proved to be excellent spokespeople. The results? … just look around the next time you sit down in Starbucks.

Fight Passionately For What You Believe In

Everything from advocacy campaigns to pushing back at work is common things practitioners fight for on a regular basis. If you believe in something, you have to go for it. As a result of fighting passionately, MLK lost his life but he did not lose it in vain. If this great leader was still alive, he would be very proud of our country.

Humility Is a Key Characteristic to Become a Successful Practitioner

A public relations practitioner’s job is what I like to call a “behind-the-scenes position.” The majority of things we do consist of making someone else look great. In their campaign speeches, they’re not going to conclude with “thanks to the PR team for writing this piece” and the front cover of The NY Times will not read “pitched by Agency X.” If you know MLK’s story, you know he did not want to be the face of the movement but felt it was his place to serve his people. During the Civil Rights Movement, MLK walked in the rallies his team organized, sacrificed plenty of financial earnings and missed out on many days of his children’s lives. If this doesn’t paint a picture of humility, I am not sure what does.

Dr. King


What are some other ways we as communicators can learn from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

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