The public relations industry helps companies and other organizations communicate with the public strategically and effectively. To accomplish this goal, public relations writers are often guided by the principles of Abraham Maslow. Maslow believed that human needs could be ranked in order from the most basic and primal to the most refined and sophisticated.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is arranged into a pyramid of either five or seven levels. The five-level version includes physiological needs such as food and water, the need for safety and security, the need for love and intimacy, the need for self-esteem and the esteem of other people and the need for self-fulfillment or as Maslow called it, self-actualization.
Public relations professionals use Maslow’s hierarchy to target the right message to the right audience. You wouldn’t get far by pitching an aesthetic appeal to a hungry man, so the first thing you have to do when creating a PR message is to determine where your target audience is on the pyramid. A nonprofit operating a homeless shelter might talk about having a warm, safe place to sleep. This targets the first two levels of the pyramid – physiological needs and safety needs. A PR appeal for a retirement community might emphasize all the opportunities for socialization, stressing the third-level need for belonging. A luxury condo development might emphasize exclusivity, stressing the fourth-level need for the esteem of others. A resort that offered yoga and meditation classes would be trying to appeal to the need for self-actualization, the highest level of the pyramid.