The poster for the film The Martian, based on Andy Weir’s novel, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, reads “BRING HIM HOME.” The phrase drives the plot and prompts rival nations to cooperate. Like the moon landing of 1969, untold millions of people planetwide were captivated with a cohesive message.
What drives people, companies, whole populations, to industry and innovation?
The answer is one word and all-encompassing:
L. Ron Hubbard detailed his findings on the integration of purpose and PR in an article titled PR AND PURPOSE:
“Programs are written to achieve a purpose.”
“To coordinate, one must have a purpose to coordinate to.”
“A PR, to get cooperation, would have to be forwarding some agreed-upon purpose.”
To illustrate how this works in the twenty-first century, look to the stars—specifically, SpaceX.
“It’s not rocket science!” so goes the quip; but in the case of SpaceX and its founder, Elon Musk, it most certainly is.
Elon Musk (inspiration for Tony Stark of Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man fame), has a net worth of $11.3 billion, co-founded PayPal (2000), SpaceX (2002), Tesla Motors (2003), and SolarCity (2006).1, 2
Musk had no degree in aerospace science but spent part of his 100-hour workweek reading about rocketry while keeping all his endeavors moving forward.
He sponsored the competition to design Hyperloop, a proposed high-tech transportation system that may eventually carry passengers at speeds of 600–700 mph.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket accomplished a landing from space onto a drone ship floating in the Atlantic, and the Dragon spacecraft was the first commercial vessel in history to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and safely return cargo to Earth.3
Tesla Motors disrupted the automotive industry with the first all-electric cars powered by lithium-ion battery cells, including the mass-market Model S.
Those aren’t purposes that flicker dimly at 40 watts but are more akin to kilowatt flood lamps illuminating the night sky— purposes broad enough to bring in top scientists from NASA and captivate millions.
Mr. Hubbard described the necessity of purposes to PR in a global context:
“It also follows that a PR can instill purpose in a group, using all manner of PR tech. Thus a PR should be an expert in shaping, defining and communicating purposes.”
“A PR skilled in the developing and handling of purposes can get almost anything moving. It can be the ‘long enough lever to move the world.’”
The roads for SpaceX and Tesla have been far from smooth: SpaceX had several failed launches, and a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad. Tesla Motors almost vanished in 2008.
But purpose is light-years ahead of business. “I don’t know what a business is,” Musk commented. “All a company is, is a bunch of people together to create a product or service. There’s no such thing as a business, just pursuit of a goal—a group of people pursuing a goal.”4
The purpose of SpaceX is to revolutionize space technology, with the goal of enabling mankind to live on other planets.5 “The future of humanity is going to bifurcate [divide into two branches] in two directions,” said Musk. “Either it’s going to become multiplanetary, or it’s going to remain confined to one planet and eventually there’s going to be an extinction event.”6
Musk explained, “You need to live in a dome initially, but over time you could terraform Mars to look like Earth and eventually walk around outside. . . . So it’s a fixer-upper of a planet.”6
We can’t all revolutionize digital commerce, transportation and space travel in one lifetime. But we can make a significant impact in our chosen field. L. Ron Hubbard summed up the power of the technology of PR:
“With practice, skill and communication, the PR, knowing this, can start or end wars; drive whole populations into serenity or mass hysteria. It is no light tool.
“PRs should know this cold.”
What overriding purpose would positively ignite your company and public?
What purpose would prompt disparate elements to action and innovation?
By understanding and harnessing the power of purposes, you can use PR to move people, companies, populations and entire worlds.
With simplicity and power, infinity awaits.
- Forbes.com. Forbes Media, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.
- Elon Musk.” com. A&E Television Networks, 21 Nov. 2016. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.
- luger, Jeffrey. “10 Things to Know about SpaceX.” Time.com. Time Inc., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.
- ickerson, Kelly. “Elon Musk Says There’s ‘No Such Thing’ as a Business.” BusinessInsider.com. Business Insider, 3 Sept. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.
- Company.” BusinessInsider.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.
- rainyQuote.com. Rep. Xplore, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.
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