Trust is the glue that holds your public affairs campaign together. Your supporters need to trust that their advocacy will be meaningful. Apathetics need to trust your message in order to find it compelling enough to care. And stakeholders (policy makers, the media, industry insiders) need to trust in order to be swayed to affect the change you are seeking.
These 5 tips help you improve your chances of successfully connecting with your audience:
- Use content — not paid media — as the primary vehicle for your message. It’s a mistake to hinge a campaign on advertisements; people innately distrust ads. Instead, your paid media should serve an awareness role, driving them to learn more about the issue. It is then up to you to make sure you have the content ready to go on a variety of channels so they can be educated.
- Don’t ignore opposing viewpoints. Refute them. It is a powerful and convincing argument when you can draw directly from what the opposition says and provide a direct response to it in your content strategy.
- Focus on good design. No, that doesn’t mean to have everything look like it belongs in an Apple advertisement. In fact, often a good campaign appeals to more modest design sensibilities, especially when you’re fostering a more grassroots effort. But, your goal should be to make sure everything is polished and consistent. And, of course, be as effective as possible in telling your story.
- Align your advocates’ message, but give them a unique voice. It’s common to create “talking points” and other materials to align a coalition or advocacy network, but this sometimes backfires, coming across as inauthentic and robotic. Do ensure everyone is aligned with the message. Don’t have all your allies approach the issue the same way. Ideally each partner has a unique point of view and way to frame the message that speaks to the components that make the most sense for them.
- Retarget and mix it up. Tweets, Vines, videos, infographics, articles, whitepapers, editorials, emails. The key isn’t any one piece, it’s about an aggregate of all of them. Different people are more easily compelled by different types of media. Seeing a piece here and a piece there helps paint a full picture and move them down the path to advocacy.
Remember that trust is earned, not bought. Be consistent with your content production and stay authentic with your voice (AKA, avoid marketing speak). Your most powerful tool will always be the voice of your advocates, so give them the support they need and the rest will fall more easily into place.
BRINK develops and executes digital campaigns for public affairs, traditional PR firms, non-profits and associations out of our Washington, DC office.