26 January, 2018
Complex, emotive or sensitive subjects can be the most impactful and the most important when it comes to influencing policy, boosting your profile or raising funds. But these issues are often difficult to talk about in the right way, and many people will hold strong views on them. If not handled carefully, they can backfire and have a negative impact on your organisation’s relationships and reputation. If you’re well prepared, however, a successful campaign or project could deliver huge benefits.
Whether you deal in the subject daily, in the course of your work, but rarely spotlight it in communications, or you are about to move into new ground, here are a few things to bear in mind.
- Understand the topic inside-out and be aware of any recent developments
- Spot flashpoints before they blow up. Communications doesn’t happen in a vacuum so it’s important to look outside your organisation. Who might be affected? How might they react?
- Stay on top of the news agenda and the political climate (and, as we have in the past, storylines in soap operas if they touch on your issue)
- Know your position and articulate it in clear, plain English. It’s always a mistake to dress things up with fancy language or rely on jargon to make your point
- Involve case studies. But don’t USE them, work WITH them. Their insight will help you make sure issues aren’t misinterpreted or misunderstood
- Make sure your spokespeople are well briefed and media trained, ready to respond to criticism or tricky questions
- Keep on top of coverage so you’re able to react swiftly or change course as needed
There is more detail on all this in our latest Intro: Dealing with sensitive subjects.