Public Relations (PR) Consumer Behaviour

Listen up marketing folk. I need to LEI something on the line for you


By Dom Burch, managing director

January 7, 2016 | 5 min read

Have you heard of the LEI principle yet (pronounced lay)?

Brands, imagine you're in a pub...

Brands, imagine you're in a pub...

It's a fairly simple communications framework designed to ensure your marketing or public relations strategy is based on actionable insights, not just your opinion or gut feel.

LEI harnesses the very best social media techniques and technology, and recognises that in order to persuade someone, you first need to understand their perspective and what motivates them.

LEI stands for:

• Listen

• Engage

• Influence

All too often people (and brands) start the other way round.

Desperate to sell us their ideas (or wares), they simply throw information at us, expecting us to absorb it and react positively, rather than seeking to enter into a genuine dialogue.

The easiest analogy I can muster is a conversation in a pub.

Imagine you're sat at a bar waiting for a friend.

The two people next to you are having a chat.

You politely listen in and realise they are discussing your favourite topic, ice cream.

You bide your time and at the right moment catch their eye and tell them you are an ice cream maker and are on the hunt for new ideas.

You all hit it off, get chatting, have a few laughs along the way, and come up with some new flavours.

You then invite them to visit your ice cream parlour to try some free samples.


You barge into a pub waving your arms, having just paid £10 to get in, shouting at the top of your voice 'who wants to buy an ice cream?'

The music stops.

Everyone stares at you.

Then gets back to talking about what they were talking about before you rudely interrupted them all.

I read some very wise words this morning from the ever insightful Stephen Waddington, who released his 16 trends for 2016.

16 areas he's thinking about in his day job in marketing, public relations and social media at Ketchum.

In trend #2, 'Data and the demise of demographics', he makes the point that brands need to do a better job of listening.

"If you’re a brand, listen, and I mean really listen and then let’s have a conversation based on what I say, and more importantly, what I do."

Spot on.

I'm often asked to help demystify PR and social media for colleagues of mine or other brands I bump into who are still struggling to get their heads around the modern marketing landscape we all operate within.

I normally start with the following five simple thoughts:

1. The old rules don’t apply anymore. Whether you like it or not the world is digital. Get over it, come join in.

2. Be a connector not a collector. Simply chasing likes, or fans, or hits to your blog at any cost is futile. Micro casting is fine if you connect and are talking to the right people.

3. Social media is turbo charged word of mouth. It's not more complicated, so don't make it so.

4. Authenticity is the key, be true to who you are. Be honest, humble, and real. Everyone can sniff out a bullshitter.

5. Be relevant, ask yourself why. Why are you on social media?/What is the purpose? What are you trying to achieve? What do you want people to think, feel, and ultimately, what do you want them to do as a result of this conversation?

Simple as that.

The LEI principle informs my entire approach.

Listen first, engage second, seek to influence third. In that order, no short cuts.

The alternative in my experience is fairly shite:

Shake your fists

Holler loudly

Ignore all the insight

Taint your reputation

Exit stage right

S, H, I, T, E.

Follow Dom on Twitter @domburch

Public Relations (PR) Consumer Behaviour

More from Public Relations (PR)

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +