The start of 2016 is as good a time as any to review some basics when it comes to communicating with reporters, policymakers, and audiences of any sort.
Let’s begin with a few thoughts to improve your media relations capabilities:
- Anticipate your key issues and construct solid messages for them;
- Role play with those individuals who you’ve assigned to talk with the press. This becomes especially lifelike if you use the interviewing skills of an ex-reporter in your communications department;
- Target carefully both the media outlets and the reporters you plan to cultivate, and remember to update your database regularly;
- Determine which reporters prefer to be contacted by e-mail, phone, or new media channels. Be sure to include that vital piece of information in your database.
Now let’s move on to discuss a few resolutions that will help you grab the ears of your audience when you deliver presentations:
- Focus squarely on your audience. Who do you need to reach and what do they need to hear from you?
- Sharpen the presentation skills of those who will represent you before the public. Even the most enthralling speakers need a regular brush up;
- Enforce consistency of message among all the speakers on your team. An outline, presentation software template, or stump speech can help here;
- Commit to reaching at least one new audience in the months to come. For example, if you have been speaking strictly to your own industry, maybe it’s time to stretch to allied trades.
You would also be wise to tend to your public affairs objectives, so here are some resolutions designed to bolster your ability when you appear as a witness before legislators and regulators:
- Gauge whether your issues are more likely to arise at the federal, state, or local level, and apportion your resources accordingly;
- Educate your expert witnesses so they understand the need for a succinct oral statement;
- Start planning now for your Washington, D.C., fly-ins;
- Organize a soup to nuts training session as your issue moves to the front public policy burner.
You likely have other ideas to add to this list. Why not share them here with a comment?