Public 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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:
Key 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:
- Short and simple – no more than a couple of sentences.
- Easy to understand.
- Conversational and is easy to say aloud.
- Jargon and acronym free.
- Has emotional punch.
- Captures the spirit of what you want to achieve.
- Uses a tone that will connect with your audience.
- Expresses your brand.
- Focuses on one broad idea.
- 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.
Someone’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
“What do they mean?” How many times have you been asked this question by a friend who needs to get a handle on what someone’s trying to say to them? Part of what I do is helping people read in between the lines. People who have crossed continents or have a disability that impacts on their “inter-personal” communication skills and in turn their business.
Putting it in a nutshell, the bit of information they usually need when they ask me this question – even though they don’t know it yet (because you can’t possibly know what you don’t know) – is: the person you’re communicating with is an indirect communicator. The e-mails are confusing you because you’re a direct communicator. You take words at face value. To you maybe means maybe. To the indirect communicator maybe generally means no. Indirect communicators don’t want to say no directly because that can lead to embarrassment and conflict. Honesty is important to them as is harmony. Like any skill communicating in a non-direct style can be learnt.
If you want to know more about
The impact of direct and indirect communication
Whether you’re a direct or indirect communicator?
A future post will follow shortly on how to become a better indirect communicator. If you have any thoughts or ideas on this, I’d love to hear from you. Please do add a comment and perhaps I’ll use it in a future post.
Contacting influential people – whether they’re newspaper editors or MPs – can be a little like walking a tightrope. You know they’re busy people so you don’t want to hassle them unnecessarily; but you really want to engage them with your latest news, ideas, campaign . . .
Here’s some strategies that have worked for me:
- Do your research. Do you know someone who knows them? Perhaps they can give you an insight into the editor’s future scheduling; or an issue that’s keeping the MP awake at night.
- Keep the e-mail short, simple and straight to the point.
- Have these three key sentences ready: an introduction proving that you know something about the person; why you’re contacting them; and what your idea, offer or question is.
- Include your URL in signature. Make it easy for people to contact you.
- Be realistic and generous. Thank them in advance for any help they can offer. If you don’t get a response, don’t take it personally. Follow-up though.
- Write short, descriptive subject lines that give the reader a reason to open up. So you really need to know your audience. What’s important to them at the moment?
If you want to know more:
How to email important people
Best practice in writing email subject lines
Perfect subject lines
Do you have an email tip to share? Please do add a comment; and why not follow me on twitter @businesses4good.
Producing press releases is part of the public affairs professional’s job. Here’s four tips on how to make the stats in your press releases sing.
1. Paint a picture with your numbers and statistics. If those 7000 people were holding hands how far would that stretch? How many caravans would they fill?
2. Help people put the figure in some kind of perspective. So you’re spending that amount of money, but what’s so and so spending on what – compare and contrast.
3. Try human angles with a twist. You have a new CEO who’s done this, this and this and has a talent for . . . singing David Bowie . . .
4. Put your key statistics at the end of the press release in an easily accessible, readable form.
Please do share. I’d be glad to hear any of your ideas on this. Why not follow me on twitter @businesses4good. Always here if you need a bit of help on 07966 369579.