How to design messaging
Public relations isn’t just about “publicising” yourself. It’s about building a relationship with your “publics.” What is a “public”? Basically the people impacted by/involved in the issue you are talking about and who might do something about it.
Clearly in terms of the climate and ecological emergency, that’s everyone. So does that mean we need to message everyone? No. We need to message the people most likely to join the Rebellion. Or those with the power to make decisions that will help deal with the emergency. Follow these steps to create a basic messaging strategy for an action, event or story.
Step 1. Who needs to know what?
Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve overall. More rebels? More people understanding that the climate and ecological emergency is important? What’s your call to action? Be really clear.
Also be really clear who you are seeking this reaction from. There is no such thing as “the general public.” You need to decide, at least in broad terms, which group of people this message is aimed at and why.
Your message is not simply information about the news story or that an action is happening. Your message is what you want your target group to know, and what they should do with that knowledge now they have it. The news angle or action is the vehicle you will use to get the message across.
Step 2. How do they need to get the info?
What do you know about your target group? Is that fact, or assumption? Do some research and check your facts. People regularly waste a lot of time making assumptions about target groups.
Who do they respect/listen to? Do they know about XR? Do they trust XR (if not, target a third party they do trust to deliver the message instead).
What issues do they care about? What makes them happy, angry, sad? What language and imagery do your target group use? You need to be using the same ones.
Notice that we tend to use the term “target group” as opposed to “target audiences.” This is because an audience implies passive receiving/watching. This is all about encouraging people to respond.
Step 3. What’s the best way to reach a target group?
Direct meetings? Events, online content, news media? What does this group of people read, watch, listen to?
Focus on the channel that will reach your target group. Don’t waste time sending press releases to every outlet or doing a video that isn’t done in a style that appeals to your target group.
Remember: they are unlikely to like what you like. So you may need to put out content you personally dislike or don’t connect with. That is important, unless you are only speaking to people like yourself.
Step 4. Check the strategic fit.
Check the messaging fits your strategy and “brand.”
Does your message align with delivering the overall strategic goals of the Movement? You can check the strategy out on our website.
Have you looked to see how it fits with the Messaging group guidance?
Have you considered whether your message could be misinterpreted and cause a problem with another target group? If so, can you re-word it?
Step 5. Did it work?
Think about how you will gauge whether your message had the right impact on your target group?
You need to consider a communications plan as a two way conversation with the target group.
- What feedback have you received?
- Who has engaged with you?
- How will you respond?
Don’t keep sending the same message without solid evidence that it’s working to achieve what you want. Keep adapting and refining it until you have evidence that it is.