Want to Be Heard? Create Media-Friendly Messages

It always amazes me when business executives want to get the greatest possible publicity for the dullest pieces of information. I think I understand the paradox: executives are naturally risk-averse, so they want to say as little as possible, while the rest of us are interested in hearing about things that are rich in the details of life: emotions, concrete examples, hard numbers, recognizable names.

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In other words, if you want to be understood by as many people as possible, you need to use rich language that communicates about real life. If you want to get your messages into the media, you need to develop communication materials full of media-friendly information including:

  • Facts and figures: put some meat on those meaningless words like “leading.” Quantify with revenue figures, customer names, award-winning products and so on.
  • Analogies and metaphors: we learn about new things in terms of old things. That’s the power of the analogy or metaphor.
  • Examples: a sainted journalism professor drilled this into my head: “show the story, don’t tell the story.” That means you need to give examples and information that illustrate the story.
  • Emotions: even business is full of drama and risk. Figure out what you can share and tell people. No one wants to be bored.
  • Connecting to pop culture and current events: a different version of learning about new things through their connection to familiar things.
  • Why now: Whether you’re trying to get media or using your messages for other audiences (hint: these rules apply there, too), people want to know why they should care now, so that they can make some space in their minds for the information you want to share.
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