How to get a journalist to love you

th9KKXI7FMPublic Affairs Tip: People love you if you make their life easier.

 

Sure some of you have been here before: twiddling your thumbs trying to think up a good plan to get some journalists on-side. Indulge me, let me give you the bad news first: there’s no quick fix. Patience and perseverance rule. The good news: there’s some things you can do to help journalists like you a little better. Here’s six to help get you started.

 

1/ Quickly respond to their queries. Enough said.

2/ Make their lives easier. Journalists thrive on up-to-date, concise and accurate facts and statistics; and newsworthy stories that sell. Like most of us they’re not super-human and can’t keep up-to-date on every issue. So they tend to depend on a handful of people or organisations that they can turn to and trust when they’re on a sticky wicket. Why not become one of their friends? Recognise the value of the statistics and stories that you collect; and why not think about pinning down and narrowcasting your expertise to a tight, target audience. What issues do you really know a lot about and which journalists would be interested?

3/ Send out useful, engaging press releases and e-mails. Journalists are swamped with them.

4/ Have a sharp press officer on the end of a line. Being over-reliant on websites and social media to get out facts, thoughts and opinions on the politics of the moment can be a tad risky.

5/ Have human stories at the ready. If you happen to be an alert charity or campaigning group you’ll have a good up-to-date “case study” database housing contact details of all those lovely people who have promised to support you by sharing their story with the media.

Last but not least:

6/ A picture launches a thousand journalists. Snap a great shot and get it out there. Fast.

Some useful stuff if you’ve found this interesting

AskCharity a free service designed to help journalists and charities work together.

Volunteer Genie on how to sell a story to a journalist.

Love to hear from you.

 

How to write well: 14 tips

dr sofija opacic and creative public affairs Public Affairs Tip: If you want to improve your writing use short sentences; and strong, snappy, unusual words.

Have you ever been stuck for words? Or perhaps not been able to get the right words in the right order on the page? Some of us get stuck when it comes to expressing what we want to say on paper; but there’s hope at hand. Writing has been part of my working life for over 25 years. That means that I’ve had a lot of time to learn from my mistakes. Like a lot of things in life there’s some simple rules you can follow. Here’s14 classic do’s and don’ts I’ve picked up along the way.

Do:

  • Use short sentences.
  • Use snappy words.
  • Use strong, unusual words to attract attention.
  • Pepper with strong, active verbs.
  • Use vivid imagery (a good metaphor goes a long way).
  • Get straight to the point.
  • Be positive.
  • Use concrete facts.

Don’t use:

  • Flowery adjectives
  • Lots of adjectives
  • Long, complex sentences.
  • Vague, flabby words and ideas.
  • Hype (seen as advertising).
  • Jargon and acronyms (unless spelt out clearly).

If you want to know more about how to write well, why not take a peek at:

thBJ5J3LOB

Getting over the b-word

Creative Publc AffairsPublic Affairs Tip: Know who you are, what you do and why you do it.

This post is a gift to all those people who get a little tetchy when the b-word’s mentioned. BRAND. Why not give it a go when you have a mo, it might help you express who you are, what you do and why you do it. What have you got to lose? Why not take the first step?

What’s brand?         

It’s what people say, think and feel about you. It’s the impression you make. Think Red Cross and Microsoft what comes to mind?

What’s does brand focus on?

Three main bits:

  • Your mission, vision and values.
  • Your visual identity (symbols, colours and design).
  • Your tone of voice (how you use words to express your organisation’s personality. Think BNP and Green).

How do you create a strong brand?

A start might be to:

    • Know who you are, what you do and why you do it. This should come through everything you do whether you’re updating your twitter account or presenting a formal fundraising pitch.
    • Be clear about your position and what sets you apart from others.
    • Bring your brand alive through words, images and colour.
    • Take people on the journey with you by sharing your vision and a common sense of purpose.
    • Make sure everyone’s on the same page including people who fund-raise, market, recruit volunteers, campaign and develop policy.
    • Be experimental, entertaining and engaging. We like brands that fit in to what’s important to us and what we’re interested in.

If you’ve found this useful, then why take a peek at this.

Please do keep in touch.

Creating social change: the power of optimism

optimismPublic affairs tip: Talk to your values not your feelings.

Welcome to the third and final instalment of this series. At the end of this post you’ll find a comprehensive Creative Public Affairs guide that explores how to engage effectively with secondary schools.

One of the joys of getting older is that you pick up a few useful insights.One of the biggies is learning that staying optimist and inspired helps keep you motivated .

Here’s some tip on how to promote a positive mind-set. Why not try out a few and tell me how you get on. I’d love to know.

  • Feed your personal energy. Stay inspired.
  • Repeat after me: Change is possible.
  • Talk to your values rather than your feelings. It helps you and others to engage with what really matters.
  • Always keep your destination in mind.
  • Keep reminding yourself that people can do great things together especially if you make the messages personal. Focus on people’s everyday concerns and interests.
  • Consistently talk about what you do and why you’re doing it. Again concentrate on positive messages that concentrate on action, impact, effectiveness, outcomes and benefits. Clock what people are paying attention to. There’s your hook!
  • Share your successes eg announce when you’ve arrived at one of your milestones.
  • Choose how you want to be seen. How are you communicating your project’s identity? Are you going to invite opinion/feedback on how things are going? Will you be promoting your work internally in newsletters, bulletins and social media?
  • Seek local news coverage when success happens.
  • Help other people understand how they can get involved in the work you’re doing and how they can make a difference in their local communities.
  • Finally, never give up hope.

After all: “What matters most is that we learn from living.” (Doris Lessing)

I hope you enjoy the Guide: May 2014 VOLUNTARY SECTOR GUIDE How to effectively engage with secondary schools.

Good luck! I’m always happy to promote good stories.

If you need any help on communication, lobbying, campaigning and working with the media, please get in touch.

 

 

 

10 tips: engaging with schools – making the first move

door

Quick Public Affairs Tip: If you want to open doors, tailor your approach to your target audience and their needs

I’ve always promoted the importance of a rounded secondary school experience. Something that enables people to create the lives they want whether it’s to do with banking or organic food farming. So I was chuffed to receive a commission to develop a strategy on how the local voluntary sector could engage more effectively with secondary schools.

It was a bit of an eye-opener. I’ve opened a lot of doors in my time – universities, trade unions, think tanks, government departments and ministerial offices – but this was a little different. Tougher. After the first couple of hiccups I’d managed to collect some crucial dos and don’ts to making that initial contact.

Dos

  • Make sure you have a contact name within the school when you phone reception. Using a person’s name is always a good way to build trust. If you don’t have a contact name, then you could try business and enterprise; deputy heads, subject heads, pastoral heads or PSHE heads, inclusion unit managers, SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator), welfare and pastoral leads.
  • If you can find someone with a bit of influence in the school to introduce you to the “right” person – perhaps a governor or a member of staff in the school – that would be great. Or perhaps you know someone who used to go to that school who can help introduce you to someone.
  • Time it right.  September’s a good time to approach schools. Avoid post-April.
  • Frame the messages in the offer around their needs, what the school wants and how the project will benefit their students. Be clear about where you’re pitching (year, subject, theme); how it’s value for money; and how you intend to measure success.
  • Be super-nice.

Don’t

  • Cold call schools.
  • E-mail/mail bomb schools.
  • Phone up during school hours expecting to talk to a teacher.
  • Contact the head teachers as they’re always very busy. Their PAs can be very helpful people. They know the school and can help you find the right person.
  • Antagonise the school receptionists. 

Hope you found this helpful. I’ll be continuing this school series with what to do in steps 2 and 3 (building trust and creating strong sustainable relationships).

I’d love to hear about your stories. What worked – or didn’t work – for you when you first approached a secondary school with your idea?

Why not get in touch:

07966 369579

sofija@creativepublicaffars.com

@businesses4good

 

10 questions to ask before setting up a small business

how to set up a successful small businessA friend recently asked me for some advice on setting up a small business from scratch. Let’s call her April. She had a few ideas; and simply needed someone to help her frame her thoughts. In a bid to make her life – and yours – a little easier I cobbled together 10 questions to help steer April to shore.

Telling your personal story

1        How did you get to where you are now?

2        What’s inspiring you to go in this new direction?

3        What values and beliefs are important to you (and what you want to offer people)?

4        What have been your key successes so far?

Telling people what you’re offering – the benefits

5        Imagine you’re in a non-work situation and someone asks you what you do for a living, how would you describe your (fledgling) business?

6        What benefit(s) are you giving to your clients that your competitors aren’t?

7        One of your dreams has come true: you have a room full of hand-picked clients, who would they be?

Getting into the digital mind-set – finish off these sentences

 8    People know me because I know about . . . .

9     People like me because I have these values and beliefs . . .

10   People follow me because I can help people . . .

Some useful things to do if you’re thinking of setting up a new venture.

Attend one of Daniel Priestley’s strategy workshops. Very helpful!

Take a peek at The Rooted Guide and Penny Power’s book Know Me, Like Me, Follow Me. Full of inspiration and creative thinking.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. I’d love to hear your ideas about what you’d like me to write about. Perhaps there’s a burning communication, campaign or lobbying issue that you’d like a bit of help on? Or perhaps you’d like to share one of your public relations successes? Please do drop me a line at sofija@creativepublicaffairs.com or @businesses4good. Happy Days!

How to create powerful key messages

how to create powerful key messagesKey messages capture the essence of something that you want to communicate. They’re bits of information that people/organisations want their target audiences to know. They articulate what you do, what you believe in and how your work benefits people’s lives, the planet. . .

Here’s a couple of key messages to chew on:

“The melting Arctic is under threat from oil drilling, industrial fishing and conflict. You can Save The Arctic.” Greenpeace 

“Speaking openly about our mental health is an essential element in breaking down the stigma surrounding it.” Rethink 

Key messages are normally sprinkled into communications – website pages, newspaper articles, press releases, presentations, media interviews, MP meetings etc.

When creating strong key messages for your public affairs and media work remember the 10 steps:

  1. Short and simple – no more than a couple of sentences.
  2. Easy to understand.
  3. Conversational and is easy to say aloud.
  4. Jargon and acronym free.
  5. Has emotional punch.
  6. Captures the spirit of what you want to achieve.
  7. Uses a tone that will connect with your audience.
  8. Expresses your brand.
  9. Focuses on one broad idea.
  10. Is easy for people to remember.

So time to get out there. As Amelia Earhart once said: “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” 

If you liked this blog then you might find these helpful too:

Key message development 

How to make your key messages interesting 

Good luck with your messaging. If you need any help just give us a call on 07966 369579 or contact me @businesses4 good or sofija@ creative public affairs.

Helping people say what they want to say: listening to articulate

claritySomeone’s trying to tell you something and it’s as fuzzy as a bear. Here’s four simple steps to help people find their own clarity.

One: Focus on them. Ask some good, well-pitched questions that get to the heart of their issues, needs and wants. One that’s always worked well for me with potential clients is: what’s your biggest challenge in the year ahead?

Two: Listen really carefully. What stories, phrases or words seem to keep cropping up? You’re picking up on their sub-conscious here.

Three: Reflect back to them and check your understanding.

Four: Be honest. It helps foster healthy relationships. If they ask you a question be honest.

The posh phrase for this process is “listening to articulate”. It’s a useful technique to have in your communication tool-box. It works by helping people bring to the surface what’s stuck in their sub-conscious.  It’s a powerful first step in influencing because it can change what’s in people’s heads.

You know you’re doing it right when people say things like: “how did that happen? I didn’t know that was there.”

Why not give the listening to articulate technique a try. I’d love to hear how you got on. Good luck!

Please do follow me @businesses4good.

Other people’s ideas you might like

Articulate listening 

Planting ideas 

8 ways to promote your cause using people’s stories

story 2Use stories:they’re a great way of connecting with people emotionally. Stories can be used many ways to help you promote your cause, for instance to:

  • Fund-raise effectively: Making things personal for potential donors adds the emotional wow factor by showing how you’ve helped someone or how you want to help someone.
  • Promote policy positions: Using case studies in consultation responses captures people’s attention.
  • Catch media attention:  Journalists are in the business of storytelling. So why not give them some fresh success stories.
  • Get an MP involved: With a face, a name and a story you can help politicians see how they can help someone in their constituency.
  • Engage with your local community: Stories are a great way of ensuring that people know what you’re up to.
  • Keep supporters happy: Success stories are a great way of keeping supporters happy.
  • Build alliances: Personal stories can help build stronger alliances by showcasing your expertise and promoting your strengths.
  • Increase volunteering: Promoting success profiles of current volunteers helps people get a grip on the benefits to them – as well as others – of volunteering.

One of my passions is re-cycling. Recently re-cycled an old Singer sewing machine with treddle; and a pair of 1980s glasses (you know the big, black rimmed ones) through Tools for Self Reliance and Vision Aid Overseas.

These two stories definitely helped me make my decision to donate to them:

Janet (trained to repair sewing machines) 

Phillipe (a tailor and father to six) 

If you want to get more communication, campaigning and lobbying tips why not follow me on twitter @businesses4good.

In pursuit of virtue: value-based campaigning

tree image1“Once upon a time there was a small girl who gazed at the last tree in the world . . . “ It’s a short-story exercise an inspirational primary school teacher set me back in the early 1970s. I remember seeing that beautiful tree in my mind’s eye, how we all needed it, how good it felt to be next to it. I was that kind of kid. I wanted the tree to live and then more .

 

What I didn’t know then is that the love of the tree connected with some of my deepest intrinsic values: protecting the environment and promoting well-being. There’s loads of other intrinsic values that people share such as caring for the community and each other and social justice. 20 years of public policy making and campaigning has taught me: you can bombard people with statistics and tactics; but what’s going to stick and create lasting change is appealing to the intrinsic values people hold dear.  Yes, money is tight. But here’s an idea: perhaps obsessing about money to sell solutions merely helped  create the lone tree in the first place.

 

If you want to know more about the empirical evidence in support of a value-based approach to campaigning please visit: WWF’s Strategies for Change project 

I hope you enjoyed this post. If it has touched you in any way then please do add a comment. If you want to know more about effective communication and creating social good then please do follow me on twitter @businesses4good.