Archives for communications

How to Push Your Message

Whether you’re pushing a single issue, a lobbying campaign, or working for a candidate (or you are a candidate), it doesn’t make much sense to develop and package a message and then not try to push it out the door. It’s sort of like having a better mouse-trap and not letting anyone know about it. The world will pass you by.

Here are some rules to remember for effectively communicating your message:

Have a Purpose for Every Message

Don’t put anything out without knowing exactly “why” you’re doing it. Don’t flood supporters or the press with content just for the sake of it. Know what you want to accomplish and how it relates to your goals.

Target Your Audience

Before you push out a message, make sure that you know “who” you want to hear it. This will help make sure that you craft the message in a way that speaks to them and that you distribute it in a way that reaches them.

Saturate All Relevant Outlets

Make sure that you saturate the outlets where your target audience is most likely to receive it. That includes all of the relevant communications tools and venues at your disposal, such as websites, Email, social network messages (and promotional image sharing), hashtags, direct mail, meetings, networking, fact sheets, talking points, letters-to-the-editor, op-ed columns, press releases and interviews (even advertising).

Be Proactive

If you want to get people or the press interested in something, than you have to speak up. With potential supporters, that means using all of the means at your disposal to let them know what you’re doing and why. If you’re working to get media attention, when a story breaks that’s relevant to your issue (or campaign), actively make yourself available to them. Contact whoever is covering the story and tell them how you’re involved with the issue and ask if they would like a quote. Follow it up with a fact sheet and/or a press release.

Have an Angle

Your messages should always feature an “angle”, meaning an interesting hook that you can “hang it on” that would interest people (and the media) in finding out more about it. That doesn’t mean that you develop a new primary message, but rather that you find a way to relate your primary message to something interesting or timely, (current events for example). It’s a way to keep your primary message relevant and interesting – and more likely to be opened, clicked, shared, reported on, etc.

Never try to promote more than one angle at a time – it only muddles your message. Find one angle and stick with it in each communication. This also helps give you better control over what actually gets shared or reported.

Keep it Simple and Clear

Keep things direct and focused on whatever angle opens the door for your “primary” message. Use simple language and terms. Don’t try to impress everyone with a barrage of information. If you want to make further details available, add a link to it.

Use Key Phrases

Create short phrases (or sound bites) that drive your primary message that you can use repeatedly in any messaging environment. Phrases that use bold, descriptive words that amplify your point. For example, the kind of phrases that you could shorten even further into a social media #hashtag.

Be Quotable

One way to increase the odds that what you promote will get more attention is to be quotable. Find ways to express your opinion on the current “angle” in a way that supports your primary message, and is pithy and to the point. Spend time putting such quotes together ahead of time; some serious and some humorous. Use them for your social media efforts, and work them into quotes that you give the media. Just be careful not to be quotable in a way that would frustrate your efforts.

Stay on Message

Once you’re confident with what you want to talk about, remember to stay ON message. What good does it do to prepare a message and then get distracted from delivering it? No matter what the question or the subject, either find a way to relate it back to your primary message or answer it quickly and then move back to what you want to talk about.

Repeat and Multiply Your Efforts

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there, does it make a noise? If you develop and package a message, but nobody sees or hears it, does it have an impact? And does it have more of an impact if people just encounter it once, or repeatedly?

You need to remember that people are constantly bombarded with messages competing for their attention. The only way to cut through the clutter is to consistently hit people repeatedly and in as many venues that are relevant to your targets as you can. If they continue to receive the same message over and over from multiple directions, it’s more likely to sink in.

Remember, when it comes to messaging, REPETITION + MULTIPLICATION = IMPACT.

If you don’t care enough about your message to invest in making sure that it penetrates, then you need a new message.

There are plenty of venues and opportunities to share your message. Just remember that it needs to be relevant, simple, clear, packaged properly and pushed repeatedly to have an impact.

How to Package Your Message

package 1In politics, it’s one thing to know what you want to say, but it’s another to put it all together in a way that helps you have an impact. And that means message packaging. It’s all about different techniques of “How” you will distribute your message in different formats for different purposes and mediums.

Here are some of the basic ways to package your message.

Create an Elevator Pitch

When it comes to effectively communicating a message, there are a lot of great lessons from the business world that we can apply to politics. One of them is known as the “elevator pitch”. It’s a condensed way to communicate what you’re doing, why, and what you want people to do – all in about the time that it takes to ride in an elevator. And it’s one of the ways that you should “package” your message.

Start from the outline in your “message map” and work to reduce it down to a thirty second pitch.

Remember to describe what you’re doing, why it’s important and relevant, and what people need to do. Be passionate and use “benefit” focused terms. Be concise and clear. Write it down. Read it. Then delete anything that’s not critical. (Wash, rinse, repeat…)

If you can’t communicate your message quickly, then you haven’t finished refining it.

Just as every business needs to “sell” something, politics and public policy is about sales too. And people respond (or not) to political messages in the same way that they do to any other sales pitch. Developing a good elevator pitch will make it easier for you (and supporters) to summarize your issue (or campaign) to others.

Fact Sheets

This is where you can add some more meat to the bones. Take your “message map” and build it out with more exhaustive information on each of the points. Find all of the relevant examples and statistics that you want to include, and even add links and references to outside sources. Add quotes from any recognizable people who are supporting the effort.

This is the type of information that becomes part “reference” for yourself, but is put together in such a way that you can make it available to people who want further information on any particular points, (including the press). You could make it available on a website, social-media, as handouts, or use it in press packets with other information that you ever make available to the media. (Remember, reporters are usually pretty lazy…this is a way of doing work for them).

Talking Points

This is a more summarized version of your fact sheets. It should be a series of the key “bullet points” (just a few sentences) that you want supporters to communicate to others. They should be like little “elevator pitches” for each point, communicating why it’s important and relevant in a succinct way, using bold and benefit focused language. It’s also a great way to help maintain some message discipline. If you actually write down what you want to say (and have others say), it’s more likely to be said. (Profound, huh?)

Support Letters

If you’re in a lobbying campaign and you’re trying to get supporters to speak out, it helps if you do a good bit of the work for them, like locating the contact information for the people they need to get in touch with. But this can also mean putting together a letter/email “template” of what they should say. Of course you don’t want a slew of identical form letters, but you can put together a basic, properly addressed, letter format for them, with your main message along with some key talking points, and encourage them to put things into their own words. The more helpful you can be, the more results you’ll see.

Also, remember that when it comes to lobbying, legislative offices are usually flooded with paper. That’s why you should always try to keep everything down to one page in length.

If it takes forever to follow an argument, then you’ve lost it.

Letters to the Editor

Just as with support letters, suggested LTRs are a great way to make it easy for supporters to help promote your message. But again, the more work you can do on the front end, the more people will participate. Let people know what media outlets you would like them to send letters to (along with contact information), and then give them access to your “fact sheets” and “talking points”. Again, encourage them to put things into their own words.

NOTE: Make your information easy to share with others, (such as with PDFs that are easy to link to, download, email, print, etc.).

Press Releases

The better written and formatted a press release is, the more likely it will get used by the media. See the tips and the example given in the chapter on “How to Write a Press Release”


A good website is your digital home base and a hub for your messaging. See the tips given in the chapter on “Online and Activities” to make sure yours is in shape if you create one.

Social Media

Now that you have put more detailed information together, use it as a resource to cherry pick key points you want to use for distribution on social media, (ex. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), and reduce them down in length suitable to the site you’re posting on. Further, you can create graphs or images that demonstrate your points (even overlaying message text on the images), posting them and encouraging others to share them.

If you have a website, online petition or other online name “capture” for supporters, be sure to share a link to it along with what you post on social media. And of course, don’t forget to share links to any downloadable PDFs you’ve created. Remember that you can also turn Facebook posts into advertisements by paying to “boost” a post.


If you will be doing anything as sophisticated (and expensive) as TV or radio advertising, you’ll want to get some professional help. But keep in mind that the message should be the same. Meaning that you should be able to build off of your “message map” and any fact sheets or talking points to develop your ads.


The point is to make it easy for anyone – whether a supporter, potential supporter, elected official or the media – to know what you’re doing and why it’s important.

If it’s well packaged, it’s easier to “push”!

Go on Offense for More Effective Political Messaging

political messagingWhether you like it or not, in politics, the aggressor usually shapes the debate.

This means that, in terms of political messaging, it’s best to be on offense so that you can advance your agenda on your own terms and on your own schedule.

The reverse scenario is that you get blindsided and are forced to respond to your opposition.  The more unprepared someone is to respond, the less effective their response will be, and the more likely that they’re constantly playing defense.

In American politics, liberals (excuse me, “progressives”) are usually the aggressors.  Generally speaking, it’s liberals who want to change the pre-existing, more conservative norms of society and government, (you know, “hope-n-change”, etc.).

This fact has several ramifications:

First, it allows liberals to set the terms of the public debate and put conservatives on the defensive.

Second, it usually makes us look negative, (as liberals will generally push until the conservative opposition starts to look hysterically negative…which makes the news media happy, as they love to show conservatives in a negative light).

At this point, they may take a step back from their own radical position and offer a compromise in order to appear “reasonable” and “moderate”.  Of course, if the “compromise” is accepted, they have still advanced their agenda. (Remember, a journey of a thousand miles…)  They see liberalism as a ratchet that only turns one way in our society.

The solution is for conservatives to be the aggressors.

We need to spend more time being the proponents of “change” – as in changing things to better align with, protect or reclaim conservative norms.  Things that average people can connect with and relate to on an everyday basis.

Given the current state of our country, there’s no shortage of things to be aggressive about.

Remember, the best defense is a good offense!