How can you learn from this? It really comes down to being prepared and doing a little practice. Being ready to respond to issues facing your business means having small messages or soundbites in the back of your mind. Knowing what the issues are that face your business is a good start and from there you can create key messages around these issues. Turning these into succinct, short and powerful key messages, are turning them into little sound bites.
STEP ONE: IDENTIFY YOUR ISSUES
In one marketing communications job I had many years ago they had an issues register that was looked at once a week and discussed with all concerned. You can take this approach further to create a spreadsheet that not only notes issues, but also projects, which you have on the go.
STEP TWO: CREATE THE SOUNDBITE
From here you can develop three concise key messages that will form the backbone of your soundbites, of your FAQs and media releases. When I say concise, I really mean it! Keep these short, I know it’s often really hard to do but it can directly affect your media pick up. If these key messages are too long, they get lost.
Here’s some interesting facts to think about:
- The average length of a print soundbite is 27 words
- The average length of a soundbite is nine seconds – about the size of a tweet
- The average number of key messages reported is three
- The average length of a TV news story is one minute and thirty seconds.
STEP THREE: CREATE PERFECT CONDITIONS BY PRACTICING
The best ways I have found to practice are to start in front of the mirror, where you can see yourself delivering the message. If you’re tripping over your tongue while at the mirror stage, your message still needs some simplifying. The final stage is to rope in a colleague and have some mock interview practice. This forces you to be put on the spot and you can clearly see what messages are working, what isn’t and what hasn’t stuck in your memory.
It sounds like a bit of work and it is. But it’s also a very valuable safety net. How you’re perceived in the media can have lasting effects. Take your foot out of your mouth and move it in front of you. Pull the key messages from your expert knowledge and take charge of the conversation, leaving a journalist, or business contact knowing in no uncertain terms, where your business stands on the issue in question.
Now you’re all ready for action – get started by making that issues list and tackling each issue one at a time. And we're here to lend you a hand if you'd like it.