10 principles of publicity

1. Why are you doing this?

Publicity is not an end in itself. Before you start trying to get publicity think clearly about what you want to achieve. Effective publicity will usually result in more work – even though it might bring in more people to help you do it.

Think about:

2. Why use the media?

The best way to persuade someone to do something is to talk to them face-to-face. This also gives you most control over the message you are trying to get across. Posters, leaflets, websites, videos and other material you produce yourself also give you control over your message, although you can’t guarantee people will look at them. The problems with these methods are that they are time consuming and the distribution of publicity material can be costly and complex.

If you need an effective way of getting your message across to a large number of people, or you need to put pressure on decision-makers, consider using the media to help you achieve your aims.

3. Think about what you are doing

Talk about your publicity needs with your group before you start. You need to be clear about the reasons you seek publicity and the message you want to get across. It is best to make clear arrangements about who is doing what, who will talk to the media or issue statements and what they will say. You need someone as a spokesperson who can think on their feet and can talk about your issue in an interesting way. This may not be the most senior or experienced person in your group

4.  Don’t take your audience for granted

When you use the press, radio or TV you will be talking to a large group of people, not just those who understand and sympathise with your aims. Don’t waste time preaching to the converted. Avoid jargon and mysterious abbreviations that only your supporters would understand.

5. Start from their point of view

Step outside your group’s activities and try to get a sense of how others see you. The history of your group from the year dot may be very interesting if you are already involved. If not, it can be very boring and off-putting. Start from where your audience is – think about their interests, desires or problems – and show how your group can help.

6. Start with your strongest point

There is always a limit on the space you will have to get your message across. Get straight to the point that concerns your audience. Keep it simple and don’t get bogged down in finer detail – if your audience doesn’t understand the broader points they won’t follow you.

7. Make it personal

The media reaches lots of people, but don’t forget they are all individuals.

Present your argument in terms of what people are doing or what is happening to them.

Use examples, stories and comparisons to make your point. If you want to persuade people to do something, make their part in the process seem positive and valuable. Use everyday language and be aware of the way people describe themselves. Have you ever heard anyone say in ordinary conversation “I’m economically inactive at the moment”?

8. Pace yourselves

Don’t try to say everything all at once. Plan your campaign to get separate coverage for other points. Look out for opportunities for publicity over a period of time to give the campaign a boost.

9. Keep it going

You may have disappointments and even disasters, but the more publicity you do, the more practiced, confident and effective you will become.

If you do have a negative experience, the good news is that the public generally doesn’t have a very long memory. Learn from any mistakes you make and try again.

10. Learn from others

Look out for campaigns run by other organisations. If you think they work well, try to identify why. Are there any lessons you can learn or ideas you can adapt?