Reputation or financial performance?
May 1, 2017
Telling your story
May 1, 2017

Six ways to control your message

Have you ever seen a bride and groom stand outside a registry office – and been so swept along by the joyous occasion that you can’t help smiling? Or have you ever walked into a room where there’s just been an argument – and you can feel the tension in the air?

Emotions are like that – they are contagious. It is important not to overlook this fact when conveying news of any sort.

This truism was particularly emphasised when my daughter’s school invited parents to a meeting about a significant change this week.  The atmosphere in the hall was initially courteous, upbeat and the questions posed were non-controversial.  The majority appeared accepting of the new situation and we could sense all was going well.

Until, that is, someone spoke out. They clearly articulated well thought-out objections.  Tapped into concerns that hadn’t yet been thought about, let alone communicated.

And the mood in the room changed. The animosity was palpable. Now it was not 300 parents who were overall accepting of the plan, it was 300 parents with real worries.

Have you ever experienced that?

So I thought it would be timely to share some crisis PR tips regarding communicating to a group of people.

  1. Take the advice of a PR professional to see if your message might in any way be controversial. They usually have enough distance from the issue to be able to see pro’s and con’s in an unbiased way.
  2. Avoid public meetings – remember, mood is very contagious. It is far better to have an ‘open house’.
  3. Brief people with your arguments in good time – so everyone feels they have an opportunity to think about things.
  4. Encourage feedback – it’s a massive resource to be able to harness the ideas of all those extra brains! Public meetings are a daunting forum to voice an opinion, and many choose to leave their views unheard.
  5. Arrange for a day/evening or two of ‘drop-in’ sessions. This gives everyone the chance of having their individual concerns addressed on a one-to-one basis. These allow people to express their concerns without necessarily recruiting others to their cause.
  6. Acknowledge the feedback you have received, thank people for their time, and act on it where appropriate.

So next time you want to communicate a big change to a group of people – think twice before holding a meeting on it.

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