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Quoting Hitler and Understanding Your Audience
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Typically, the name "Hitler" does not beckon any inspiration to a marketing plan. In fact, it never does — just say it — that never happens. A Kardashian has a stronger chance of falling in love with a poor, white man with no musical or athletic ability than a creative has considering Hitler in any marketing communications approach. Yet, this happened one day in America this week. Now, make the source of said marketing communications scheme a Bible school and a ministry, and we have problems. Oh yeah, and it's based in Alabama.

I know: The Apocalypse is looming. 

Meet Life Savers Ministries (LSM)
. This inventive ecumenical resource in Opelika, Ala. was created to minister at-risk children. So, to reach those kids, you need to strike a chord in terms of hope, faith, joy, self-esteem...and totalitarian suffrage established in a dystopian mind and culture that hates everyone to the point of executing one of the most heinous crimes against humanity in the history of the world. Yeah, nothing says "Love" quite like that, right? 

Just look at that billboard!

Now this is an organization that understands its audience — five smiling kids singing 'Kumbaya,' a verse from the Bible, a light color palette, pictured near a shopping mall, and the crowning touch, a quote from Adolf Hitler to tout the future of those children. Because after his focus on the SS Youth Army, he became a pre-eminent role model for "training up the way a child should go," right? The quote from the mass-murdering Nazi leader reads: "He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future." Hitler said that in 1935 when, of course, he was recruiting young Germans into his plot for global domination and Aryan brotherhood. 

I'm not new to PR and messaging, so maybe I missed this class in ethics. Anyone think this message was received well among LSM's key demographic? As I write this, still scratching my head about avoiding this class in "Messaging 101" at college, the billboard has been covered up because the ministry received "a few disturbing phone calls." Wait, what? You mean, some good Christian folk took umbrage with a ministry equating upright, moral principles with someone who many consider to be the prince of darkness? Come on! Surely, you jest. Surely, this ministry did their homework and knew quoting him would be not a good move. Surely, well...these jackleg fools dropped out of elementary school and completely missed out on that whole World War II thing. 

Draped over or not, apologized or not, that damage is done. And regretfully, there is no explaining your way out of that one. So why that choice? I don't know, but perhaps the school owners fall into the "niche" population of the people who have said, echoed, even written books about, that Adolf Hitler was a "Christian." Just because your dog crawled in the oven and had puppies doesn't make them biscuits. There have been multitudes of people who have espoused Christian beliefs and acted like Satan's mercenary. Some of those lost their way and others took a detour and stayed on that gravel road, where they experienced a flat tire and just made shop there. It just happens. They may have read a book, but clearly just skimmed it while sitting on the toilet. And that's why it is to understand why some people have ideologies that stink. The perception on LSM is their thinking does too.

And that brings us back to messaging. This is the most fundamental aspect to any PR outreach — to have clear talking points about what the brand's promise is becomes its clarion call moving forward. And this Bible school's call just became "Sieg Heil!" Understanding your audience is tantamount to any PR professional. When counseling a client, the first question to ask is "Who do you want to reach?" Analysis follows thereafter. Unfortunately, this is one question these nitwits didn't ask themselves, because if they did, certainly there are a few books they could have consulted to learn about that demographic.

At least one that I know of and find in hotel rooms. That will be the Gideons on Line One. 

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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