Last year was rough year for the environment. Part of this is due to our messaging. Now is a time to reflect and recharge. What if we could be more effective in our communications? Imagine more members and volunteers. Easier fund-raising. More victories with legislation.
I admit that I keep forgetting the basics, so I wrote them down to share. Here are my top five tips for improving your messages for 2018. I resolve to follow them again.
- Knowing, Tailoring and Targeting Your Audience
Are your communications ‘spray and pray?’ We write the same email, text or press release for the public as we do for our members. The result is our messages are less effective. Knowing your audience requires talking to them. Targeting requires a connection between your CRM or database, and your media platform. Tailoring requires using this connection to send the right message, at the right time, to the right audience.
- Attracting Rather than Persuading
Do you tend to rely on ‘fear and facts?’ i.e. “I will scare you to death by just citing the facts. Then you will see my cause is just, and perhaps send money.” The truth is, your audience rarely cares about your facts. It bores them. Fear immobilizes them, makes them give up hope, and causes them to disengage. The most effective communications attract by citing successes, thanking people, celebrating and by making others want to participate. One key to attracting, is to tell stories.
- Brevity and Simplicity
This is tough. Many of us suffer from excess words. Our cause is important. We need to explain. Of course, we just want someone to listen. Excess words are easy to see in others, so brevity and simplicity begin with editing.
I once had a boss that sent me a memo to review. The first sentence had sixty-three words in it. His average syllable count per word was three point five! He didn’t like my response. Short words. Short sentences. (Google “Readability” for tools.) This is an example of a simple story.
In today’s attention economy, another friend says, “If your idea can’t be made into a hashtag, it’s too long.” This is a simpler story.
Use a picture. Use a video. Communications with images are four times more effective than those with words. If you can’t, then paint a picture with words. See the words “Imagine” and “What if” in the first paragraph. Metaphors work as well. When all else fails, tell a story.
“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…” “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Churchill, and King.
Tough circumstances, honest assessments, and a determined spirit. People want to be inspired. We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We want optimism, and positivity. Give your audience a reason to believe.
We will win our fight for climate justice. We will save the earth, because we have no alternative. The new year is around the corner. So are better messages.
We Are All Connected. Savor the Earth!
L. Hobart Stocking