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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

6 tips: how to build your media contacts

trustA local charity asked for help around how they could set up long-term, viable relationships with key journalists. The advice was simple:

Tip 1: Make their lives easier. Media professionals need up-to-date, concise and accurate facts and statistics. They can’t keep up-to-date on every issue, so they tend to depend on a handful of people/organisations that they can turn to and trust. Make sure you’re one of them. Recognise the value of the statistics that you collect; and pin down your expertise (what issues do you know alot about?)

Tip 2: Keep up-to-speed on the day’s news.

Tip 3: Respond to journalist queries quickly.

Tip 4: Journalists need stories. Any alert charity or lobbying group would have people available who’d be willing and eager to tell their story. Don’t under-estimate the importance of an up-to-date case study database.

Tip 5: Make sure you’re not over-reliant on websites and social media to get out your facts, thoughts and opinions on the politics of the moment. A sharp press officer is worth as much if not more.

Tip 6: Don’t waste your efforts on useless press releases and e-mails etc. with no news value. There’s no simple way of saying this: it will harm your organisation’s reputation.

Other blogs that might interest you:

making press release statistics sing

simply stylish: 11 journalism tips 

Do you have a media or public affairs problem you’d like solved? Why not leave a comment; or get directly in contact with me on 07966 369579.

Stakeholder mapping: it sounds scary but it ain’t necessarily so

Someone recently came for advice on how to design an effective communication plan to manage a new project. A good place to start is to draw up a stakeholder map. This is a map of people, groups and organisations who might be interested in your project. For instance, a list of stakeholders for a medium-sized charity might have politicians (local and national), journalists (local, regional and national), think tanks, local community groups, staff, volunteers, donors and funders.

A stakeholder map has an axis for interest  – the level of interest someone has in the project because it’ll either impact on them; and another for influence – the level of influence or power an individual has in shaping the project and it’s direction.

Someone’s position on the grid shows you the type of interaction and communication that would be helpful to success.

High Influence, High Interest: These are the people you must fully engage and make the greatest efforts to satisfy. They are “key players”. Regular communications and face-to-face meetings are a must either 121 or as a group.

High Influence, Low Interest: Keep satisfied but not so much that they become bored with your message. You may need their help in the future.

Low Influence, High Interest: Collect feedback from this group to make sure that no new issues are coming up. Tailor your communications to their needs. They’re often essential to the detail and success of the plan. Often in-house.

Low Influence, Low Interest: People who simply need to be kept informed. Don’t bore them with excessive communication.

If you are interested in digging deeper on this subject then it’s worth having a look at:

Mindtools

Expertprogrammanagement

Stakeholdermap

Please do follow me on twitter @businesses4good. I’d love to hear if you found this of value. Please do leave a comment.

Can you see me?

Painting by Bella Opacic

Be honest. Hand on heart. Would you feel confident getting in contact with a government minister about a local issue? If the answer’s no, and you’d like a bite-size bit of advice, here’s six steps to help you build your confidence.

Step 1: Believe it’s possible. Having a can-do mind-set goes a long way.

Step 2: Do your research. Who’s got responsibility over the issue in government? Who has it as a constituency challenge or a personal interest?

Step 3: Be clear about your issue and your solution. Think it through carefully and collect your evidence (stories and statistics that show you’ve made a difference to people’s lives).

Step 4: Create a perfect pitch. Following the “Six Ps” for pitching will help.

  • Position yourself: who are you?
  • Identify the problem.
  • Project forward into the future (what’s the wider impact?).
  • What’s your proposal to solve this problem?
  • What proof do you have to back this up?
  • What project are you currently working on?

Step 5: Gain access through you local MP, one of the minister’s special advisers or through someone you know who knows them.

Step 6:  Persevere . . . Dream the dream . . . But don’t put all your dreams in one basket.

If you have any tips you’d like to share on this topic then please do add a comment or get in contact. I’d love to hear from you. Please follow me on Twitter @businesses4good.

TOSCA: 5 simple lobbying tips

Some simple steps to help you plan your next lobbying campaign.

T: Target the MPs who have shown an interest or have a responsibility over the issue you’re interested in promoting.

O: Be clear about what you are trying to achieve – what are your objectives? Have a clear outcome in mind.

S: Identify your strategy and the key milestones.

C: Ask yourself how this will play to the MP’s constituents or responsibilities.

A: Be clear about your ask.

What’s your opinion? Which tip grabs your attention most? Please do leave a comment.

Useful stuff

“Lobbying is the practice of individuals and organisations trying to influence the opinions of MPs and Lords. Methods of lobbying vary and can range from sending letters, making presentations, providing briefing material to Members and organised rallies”. (click here for more information).

End note

A little light relief from TOSCA before you get started.

MP magic: 3 reasons why your MP letter might not be working for you

Have you ever contacted your local MP and wondered why you never got a formal reply? It might be worth checking that you didn’t accidentally make one of the three simple mistakes listed below. They’re very easy to make – especially if you’re in a rush or a rage; and the world of public affairs is notoriously difficult to navigate, if you’re new to it.

1: Have you sent your request in the right way, to the right person and to the right address? A good place to start if you’re looking for an MP is the www.parliament.uk/website. If you put in your home postcode, then your constituency and MPs details will come up. The best way of contacting your local MP is by letter (almost always the House of Commons rather than the constituency address). If you need some help, you can always call the House of Commons Information Office on 020 7219 4272.

2: Have you double-checked that the MP can do what you’re asking him/her to do? An MP (without ministerial responsibilities) can do various things to help you move your issue forward:

Private actions

  • Write a letter to the relevant department or official
  • Write to the Minister involved
  • Have a meeting with the right Minister

Public – parlimentary actions

  • ask an oral question at Question Time
  • put forward an early day motion
  • ask to lead a debate in the House of Commons
  • raise an issue in the Adjournment debate
  • put forward a Private Members Bill

If you’ve contacted an MP with ministerial responsibilities (eg parliamentary private secretaries or Secretary of States) s/he can’t question Government policy through Parliament (eg ask questions). Opposition spokespeople may also be restricted by internal party rules.

3: Is parliament in recess? This could be slowing the response time. Parliament doesn’t sit all year round. During recess, MPs can carry out their other duties. The recess calendar is not set in stone – it changes; and it’s normally slightly different for the two Houses (Commons/Lords). Again the parliament.uk website details recess dates.

Please do add a comment. I’d be interested to hear if other people have come across simple, practical reasons as to why their MP letters didn’t get a formal response.

“It’s not just about money”

Charities can get a lot out of going to local, face-to-face (F2F) business networking events; and yet – it seems to me – that very few do so on a regular basis.

Let’s look at the benefits:

  • Raising awareness of what your charity does.
  • Building a stronger profile in your local community.
  • Promoting your brand to people who are interested to know more.
  • Expanding your volunteer base so that your charity can keep running its services.
  • Increasing fund-raising, sales leads.

Some advice for budding charity business networkers*

  • Don’t think about it as just money – sponsorship means more than money.
  • Ask for practical support: volunteer marshalls on a sponsored walk eg
  • Believe that people want an opportunity to get to know the charity well (what it does, who and how it helps people).
  • View it as a chance to build lasting, sustainable relationships – not just a one-off event.
  • Go with some specific stories up your sleeve about how businesses can benefit by working with you eg how it has helped in team building.

And a few tips from me:

  • Be open, optimistic and supportive: How can you help the person you’re talking to? Building relationships takes time. Perhaps there’s an issue that you can resolve together?
  • Set your objectives. What do you want to achieve? Be as specific, measurable and realistic as possible eg share 3 human stories (some people call them case studies) about the benefit of your services/products? give out 6 business cards; ask 5 people to visit your website?
  • Be prepared: Have the answers to the following questions along with a stash of business cards: what you do; who you work with, what service and products your charity offers, and how it helps people.

 Finally, two actions to set the ball rolling: 

  • Choose your event. Find out what F2F business networking events are happening in your local area. Some like Business Biscotti and First Friday – in my local area of Reading, Berkshire – are free. Others charge. Be careful.
  • Double-check when they’re on: normally early mornings or late afternoons. Timings can be a barrier for some – but this shouldn’t put you off – it’s worth it!

I’d love to hear from any charities about the things that have worked for you n F2F business networking. Please do write a comment.

* Thanks to Jacqui Dunne of Business Biscotti and Juliette Smith of the Athena Network for their expert advice.

What’s in an elevator pitch?

Professional blog

People sometimes ask me what an elevator pitch is. My understanding is that it’s a way of letting people know what you can do for them in about 30 seconds – the time you’d have if you were sharing an elevator/lift with them.

My experience in public affairs is that you’re lucky if you have 30 seconds with – say – a key business leader at a public event to exchange ideas about how you could work together.

So, here’s the challenge:  you’re in a lift with Lord Alan Sugar, you introduce your business/organisation, he doesn’t know about it, and you have  just 15 seconds left to talk to just three of the five  key elevator pitch points – which three would you pick?

  • Who you work with
  • What the problem is you’re helping to solve
  • What service and products you offer
  • What difference you’re making
  • What the benefits are

I don’t think there’s a right answer to this  -but I’d really like to hear your thoughts.