Media and government relations and dating sites like E-Harmony both involve:
- identifying key people with shared interests
- deeply understanding the other’s background and needs
- positioning yourself for joint success
- building relationships
Build your Contact Plan
In both media and government relations, mapping out a comprehensive contact plan is an important place to begin. For media, include local media outlets, specialized reporters and bloggers. Think about industry publications and editorial opportunities like guest columns or Op Eds. In government relations you want to be political but non-partisan so be sure to include all parties, elected and non-elected decision-makers, key staffers and members of key committees. To ensure you include all important ministries and think broadly about your issue and its implications. Who ‘wins’ if your proposal is adopted? For example, an environmental issue may have economic development, natural resources, agriculture or municipal affairs angles. You’ll want to build a broad coalition of support for your issue.
Understand where they’re coming from
Everyone on your contact plan is juggling competing priorities, facing tight deadlines and trying to accomplish their own objectives. The more you understand where they’re coming from and what they are trying to accomplish, the better you can tailor your approach to suit their needs and advance your position. For example, reporters are working on tight deadlines and looking for compelling, new, and local or human interest stories – preferably with strong visuals. Elected officials are trying to fulfill election promises, answer to a constituency, meet the expectations of diverse groups and perhaps advance their own position within their party. Check out election promises, Throne Speeches, any documents that help you understand how advancing your issue helps them accomplish their objectives.
Position Yourself for Joint Success
Make is easy for reporters by providing information that is relevant, local, human, timely, newsworthy and suitable for their format. “Always be clippable” and able to provide a compelling story or statistic. Boil your story down to two or three key messages that can be supplemented with additional supporting details. When your audience is policymakers, make it a win for them to advance your issue by demonstrating that it is a compelling issue for their constituents. Provide strong and credible background research. Pull together a broad coalition of support for your positions and have a very clear “ask” and understanding of how it can happen. If possible, provide proposed draft wording for the legislative change or regulation.
Media and government relations are a process. Just as in our personal relationships, it’s important to behave with integrity, to return calls, to find opportunities to reconnect and to help each other out. Seek out opportunities to raise the profile of your organisation or your issue. Invite decision-makers to events that may be of interest. Volunteer for interviews and panel discussions or present a submission at a hearing. Most importantly, stay at the table and find ways to achieve win-win outcomes.
And you will all live happily ever after