For the past couple of months we’ve been working very closely with client on their response to a major government policy review being announced next month.
So I’ve been reflecting on the best way to get your voice and views heard.
Of course, not knowing exactly what the potential government reforms will be, or exactly when the announcement will be made, has made everything a bit of a guessing game, but there is still plenty of things we’ve been able to do to prepare:
1. Work out all the potential scenarios – in this case what the review might recommend – and decide what your organisation’s stance is on each
2. Develop ‘key messages’ on each of these and test them out on news journalists –your messages will need to be easy to understand, using interesting facts and case studies to back up your views. Don’t shy away from addressing tricky issues
3. Prepare your key spokespeople for all different types of interview – print, radio or TV, live or pre-recorded, hard news or lifestyle
4. Work out the manner of your response – by making a press statement, by offering interviews, or by holding a press conference
5. If the latter, consider the timing carefully to make sure you make the key news bulletins and the next day’s paper
6. Check out potential locations and book a room in advance to hold the press conference. Make sure it has all the necessary facilities, such as microphones, AV equipment, TV monitors, a quiet area for one-to-one interviews
7. Rehearse. Taking control of a press conference and ensuring it sticks on your agenda is a particular skill. We brought in a specialist presentation trainer to make sure the key spokespeople gave a good performance
8. Think about pre-filming. TV programmes may preview an announcement and will certainly want interesting footage for their coverage on the day, so offering interesting filming opportunities – or footage you’ve had filmed yourself – will help you seize the initiative and get the type of coverage you want.
9. Put yourself into the mindset of reporters – what will their agenda be in covering the story, and how can you influence it to make sure that your opinions are reflected
10. And of course, pull as many strings as possible to get an embargoed copy of a report, so you have advance notice of what the government is going to say!!