As public affairs professionals, we seek to influence others on policy positions, on our clients’ messaging or to sway public opinion in another way. To do this, we generally want to create community support around these positions or messages.
In order to create that community support, there are a number of steps that need to take place.
1. Identify Allies and Adversaries
In any campaign – media, political or otherwise – you will have natural allies and adversaries. For example, if you’re working on a project supporting a manufacturing plant in Portland, your allies will likely include business and industry organizations, while your adversaries may include environmental activists.
2. Develop Key Messages
Once you’ve identified those who you’ll be working alongside, you should establish the main messaging you want to convey about your project. It is vital that everyone working on the same side of an issue stick to the same messaging for consistency purposes. Your messages should be simple enough that they can be easily understood by the public, but thorough enough that they explain your story and perspective.
3. Train Messengers
Most people will be more likely to listen to the perspective of someone speaking about a subject within their own community. You’ll want to equip your allies with your key messages and empower them to spread those messages within their own communities.
4. Listen to Feedback
As your messengers talk with community members about your project, it’s important to take into account what they’re hearing from others. You may learn important pieces of information that help you adjust your messaging or your strategy to be more successful.
5. Celebrate Collective Wins
Once you’ve successfully engaged the community, it’s important to thank those who helped spread the message and helped push your project forward. Keep your allies engaged and remember, your wins are also their wins!