EMOTIONAL DATA: How the f**k did that happen? A serious lesson for comms people

28115003294_08e4e1eae1_bWhen you heard about the shooting of JFK or the death of Diana you may recall where you were when you heard it.

In years to come – if the planet lives that long – we may recall where we were when we heard that Donald Trump was elected President.

History – if the planet lives that long – will make sense of the shift and in a booklined study someone will look back and think all this was expected.

They may sift through a pile of  sources that all say roughly the same thing… how the f*** did that happen?

Election data blogger Ian Warren uses those six words to open up a blog which comms people would be well served to read. He looks at the data of the last five key elections and looks at the emotion used by both sides. It is, he says, 5-0 to emotion.

The standout point in all of this chimes with a conclusion made at a commscamp session last summer. In a battle between head v heart, heart wins. It’s the emotion, stupid.

The key learning of the last year or so has been that the communication of effective emotional messages is currently beating data alone. This is particularly true in the age of social media which is effectively a delivery system for emotional weapons. Allied to which there is more volatility in our politics than there has ever been.

If social media is effectively a delivery system for emotional weapons then virtual reality as the ultimate empathy machine when it grows larger as Mark Zuckerburg says it will will be that ten times over.

What does this means for the future of facts, reason and logic? I genuinely don’t know.

But above all it reinforces the need to tell emotional stories, to appeal to the heart and to make content that people will engage with. John Lewis got this last year. They used loneliness to stoke emotion along with memory, a familiar song and not talking about the sell. They have used a similar formula this year.

So, if a department store can get it at Christmas, shouldn’t we all all year round?

Emotion, it seems, is for life.

Picture credit: Ben Seidelman / Flickr

Join the Conversation


  1. The double-whammy of Brexit and Trump are making me question the likelihood of data-driven decision-making ever becoming the norm.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply