I recently read an article detailing many of the principles of minimalism in Web design. The more I read, the more I came to realize how fitting many of these same ideals were in the world of public relations.
The first tenet of minimalist design is not a simple and uncluttered aesthetic that features black and white colors or basic grid layouts, as many might think. The real first tenet of minimalist design is that content always comes first. A clean and straightforward appearance is in service of that principle. “Because minimalism is all about trimming secondary features,” according to the Fast.Co article, “the content stands out even more within a disciplined interface.” Content as king is certainly not a concept we’re unfamiliar with these days, but how we develop and present it can be met with widely varying degrees of success.
So, how can we apply the above principle to the day-to-day work being done at, say, a technology PR firm? The first and most obvious answer is in Web design itself. Said tech PR firm and their clients could espouse simple minimalist design throughout their websites. Except, as the article points out, minimalist design isn’t appropriate in every situation.
If you’re part of an industry where large amounts of technical data, information and features are necessary, your site likely won’t benefit from a minimalist approach. But your PR campaigns will.
Less is More, in a Manner of Speaking
Remember that content stands out more when you exercise discipline around it. A PR campaign often features a range of content types, from blog posts to contributed bylines to podcasts to videos. The important thing is to give each of these items room to breathe within themselves. Maintain focus and consistency and remember the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. That doesn’t mean that you have to dumb down your content — far from it. What it means is that you need to identify one or two key themes and stick to them across different mediums. There very well could be a million and one new features in the latest iteration of your marketing automation software, but if you try to squeeze them all into a blog post, it’ll be closer in length to a novella. Or a video will near feature film length. Boil it all down to the main value add. Strip it down to its core elements. If you had to describe why people should care about what you’re talking about in two sentences, what would they be? Build everything else around that “mission statement.”
There’s plenty of room for more detail to emerge in media interviews, analyst briefings, speaking opportunities, roundtable discussions and various events. But if your PR campaigns are flooded with more details and features and talking points than you can count, your core message gets lost in the fray. The content that serves as the wireframe — in Web design parlance — for your PR outreach should be focused, make an impact, and give your audience a clear and memorable takeaway.
Don’t look at the minimalist approach as lacking in detail. Instead, think of it as a way to give your central message the punch it needs to get noticed, and as the catalyst for more in-depth and fruitful conversations to come.
This post was first published by Brendan Reilly on March Communications’ blog.