Working in the public relations, public affairs, and government affairs industries, many of our mornings are dedicated to staying up to date on the news of the day. This means our minds (and inboxes) are full of Google Alerts, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and NBC News updates constantly notifying us of the current state of the world. However, while most Americans are managing their own lives, their families, and their jobs, they think don’t have time to keep up with current issues.
Therefore, when approaching an individual about an issue that you or an organization you’re working with really care about, you must be as effective as possible.
You might start by asking yourself, “how can I make this issue relatable to this individual, and how can I help this person become part of the solution?” But the conversation doesn’t end once you’ve hung up the phone or left the table. It’s also important to follow up with that person and to foster a connection that goes beyond the first discussion of your issue.
No one really cares about an issue until the issue hits home. It’s crucial that your issue is ultimately relatable to the people you are working with. Begin by fostering a connection with the people you talk to. Get to know what they do for a living, their hobbies, and what they care most about. This gives you the greatest opportunity to connect how your issue impacts their day-to-day lives. Once you’ve made the issue relatable to people, you’ve likely caught their attention.
Understanding the Issue
The issue you’re addressing with the public is likely pretty complex. Before describing the issue by using industry jargon, take into consideration that you’ve had more time and resources to digest the issue than the people you’re talking to. Include a one-page backgrounder, diagram, factsheet, or any other resource that will be not only help simplify the issue, but also be impactful to your conversation and someone else’s understanding of the issue.
Don’t make someone sit through your spiel without offering a solution. There is nothing more time-consuming or irritating than listening to someone discuss a problem without offering a way to fix it. Don’t be that person. Instead, offer to connect that person with their legislators, sign a petition, or write a letter to the editor of their local newspaper to raise awareness of the issue with the general public. Back this up by telling people why it matters that they follow through, so that they know what part they will have in the solution to your issue.
Keep these three things in mind the next time you have to bring an issue to members of the public. Remember to be courteous of their time and use it effectively by making your issue relatable, easier to understand, all while getting them involved in the solution.