Deep Dive Breakout 3

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

2:00pm –3:00pm

Brian Sansoni (American Cleaning Institute), Sarah McDonald (The Home Depot), Ann Morris (American Automobile Association), and Amanda Wolfe (National Rural Electric Cooperative Association)

Here we go again, asking advocates to take action on the same issue. And, it is so complicated you need 10 paragraphs just to explain our position. Well, you’re not alone! Our panelists have some great strategies to freshen-up those tired, complex messages.

Have feedback on this session? We’d love to hear it! Submit it here.


How to do you keep things simple? And when/ how to dumb it down.

  • “If you want people to know three things about you, have three parts to your message. If you want people to know nothing about you, then have nine.” – James Carville
  • Ask yourself 1) Who am I targeting? 2.)What am I trying to accomplish?
  • Remember that your audience may not be “inside the beltway,” so translate your “jargon” into everyday speak.
  • What is obvious to you, it not always obvious to your audience.
  • Ensure your message(s) are as tight as possible.

How do you make an emotional connection?

  • First person testimonials- Stories help you connect with the audience but remember to simplify
  • Video vignettes- Short videos grab your audiences’ attention in a unique way
  • B-roll footage- Behind the scenes is interesting and reels people in
  • Keeping up with the time- Pay attention to your audiences! What do they like? What social platforms are they using?
  • Know your audience and really make it about them by connecting your story with the audience—how is it relative to their everyday life? (Examples: Featuring members/constituents…etc. in your messages through photos, like a Facebook post or Tweet)
  • Once you know your audience, play up their interests and personalize your messages (Examples: Calling people in Indiana “Hoosiers”)
  • Remind your audience how they will be impacted or affected by the issue at hand, using language that resonates with them
  • While digital is fast, face to face interactions are still key.

What are some tricks to keep things fresh?

  • Conduct public opinion polls- Learn what your audience wants to hear and shape your messages accordingly
  • Establish partnerships- Partner with others to find creative ways to tell your story to new audiences — Innovation! These relationships will help reinforce your message. you can also pilot studies with partners can help you to test new messaging
  • Leverage numbers and statistics- Your numbers can tell a story and serve as proof points to your audience
  • Group/Team collaboration- Brainstorming new ideas from everyone from the intern level to a VP helps bring new insights to the table.

What are the best channels/ content types to replay messages?

  • The key takeaway is to leverage all the “tools” in your arsenal to create clear messages—both traditional and new media tactics. Customize each campaign according to the subject matter, key stakeholders and target audiences. Not all channels will be appropriate, so pick and choose the best combination to meet your needs. There is no “one size fits all” but a helpful formula to remember is Online + Offline = Success.
  • Message Delivery Channel Examples: Press releases, Infographics, Talking points, B-roll footage, Motion graphics, Video, Publication/Magazine articles, Billboards, Email blasts, Newsletters, Banner advertisements, and In-person meetings.

Where are the roadblocks to building a successful campaign with clear messages?

  • Internally it is challenging to get everyone on the same page with messaging—from the lobbying team to government affairs to the legal team. Everyone wants their language included! Crafting messages that are clear and concise, but still keep the integrity of the policy is difficult. A helpful tip is to strike a balance—which can be done but takes time.
  • Legal departments are a roadblock too, so sending them materials/language early is key!

How do you keep a campaign going after a handful of years?

  • Continue to create a sense of urgency, even if there is none. Capitalize on anything relevant at all – keep talking about it! It will help keep it top of mind to your audience. Also, you can create internal teams to keep talking about the issue in a different way to your audience.

How do you work with your competition?

  • Competitors are allies in the legislative/regulatory space. Oftentimes direct competitors in the retail space are lockstep together on policy matters specific to their industry. They form coalitions, donate to PACs…etc.

How do you communicate to audiences who are “off line”?

  • Use traditional methods—send them letters or put key messages in a newsletter or magazine. You can also deal with folks face to face – especially the thought leaders in the community. Key advocates can inform an entire team via word of mouth.

How do you gather key stories?

  • Leverage personal relationships, through word of mouth, HR is helpful for identifying specific audiences.