Posts tagged ‘Tools’

Time to throw away the trusty old position paper?

A framework for thinking about how what you want helps your audience

It seems that the position paper is about as standard issue as a BMW 320D or a Blackberry Bold for the public affairs professional in this town. You simply would not leave for a meeting without one. I think it’s time to change all that. It’s time to throw away the rather haggard old position paper and replace it with the shiny new ‘Benefits Statement’. Ta-dah!

No, I’m not saying that we all need to be made unemployed; something which UK nationals may associate with benefits statements.  Just that one of the key public affairs document needs to be re-tooled and re-focused if it’s to do its primary job of helping convince our audience to go in our direction within any public policy debate.

There are of course good position papers and bad ones. Brevity good. German academic style papers with fifty million footnotes bad. A single point good. A list of twenty five things that are all equally important bad. General calls for support bad. Clear instruction on what to do if they support your point of view good.

My issue with the position paper is that given its name it’s a little hard to get past the general idea that it should all be about the organization writing it. What your organization thinks. How your organization is affected. While all these things are important to you, nine times out of ten I’m guessing they are not that important to the folks you’re trying to convince. So while you clearly need to work out what you think and why, when you come to putting it down on paper I’d suggest starting it’s time to focus your thoughts on the benefits for the people you’re trying to convince. What and who do they care about? Why is what you say important to them? Above and beyond persuading them you are right what are you going to say to make them act?

In thinking about these questions, I’ve come up with my own 4Ps of what policymakers care about in my humble view (see above). Clearly the emphasis one places on any one of the 4Ps depends on the assessment of the issue and the folks you are communicating to. However, I find it a useful starting point for thinking. I hope it’s of use to you too.

James

June 9, 2011 at 9:21 am 2 comments

Searching the EU blogosphere

Google's homepage in 1998

Image via Wikipedia

Apparently in the world of search we are moving in two opposite directions, or at least Google think so. And who are we to question. Mere PA people that we are.

Firstly, there is apparently a move towards expanding the scope of general search to other forms of content. After all, whether it’s a vid. Note that as you’ve been searching Google recently maps, pictures, videos and allsorts of other online content are starting to pop up in your results. Have a go at putting in “Fleishman-Hillard Brussels” and you get a handy map of our location for example.

Secondly, there is a move towards more specialisation. In this regard, the boys over at Euractiv have created their own custom search engine for the EU blogosphere. Check it out here.

Which all leads us to wonder what does this mean? Well, we suppose if we work on our premise that policymakers also use the internet to find out about stuff – or at least their assistants do – that it’s not only your website that needs optimising but increasingly that other types of content may become more useful. Secondly, the custom search could be useful – for example, do you only want to know what the EU institutions websites say on a subject, or how about what a collection of NGO websites say? Could be handy.

May 23, 2008 at 6:11 pm 1 comment


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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at www.fleishman-hillard.eu

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