Written by: Nicloa Michel
Prepare for media melée. Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison will hand down his first Federal Budget on May 3. Speculation and counter-speculation as to the detail has been rife, but regardless of where the government lands on the big issues from tax reform to concessions in super and funding education, one thing is clear. Time spent planning your communication response now will make the job of responding in the days and weeks after the Budget much easier, and your response much better.
The good news is that planning ahead doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are four steps to get you started.
Step 1 - Decide what you will (and won’t) be commenting on
Unless you have limitless resources don’t try to boil the ocean. Think about what you want to comment on, where your areas of expertise lie and where you can add most value. This means focusing on your clients and other stakeholders (a.k.a your target audience/s), putting yourself in their shoes, and deciding what information will be most helpful to them.
Equally, decide areas that, for whatever reason (from domain expertise to political or other sensitivities) you are not prepared to comment on, and pre-prepare a gentle reusable statement to that effect – ideally one which highlights areas on which are willing to make comment.
Step 2 – Who is going to say what?
Once you’ve decided on your areas for commentary, plan for what you can, including content and spokespeople.
Content: Consider your position on the outcomes you believe most likely (pro, against, neutral) and pre-prepare some forms of words so you need only slot in the details once they emerge. Writing a brief statement of what the issue/change is a good way of honing in on your key message. Helpful also is a brief situation analysis - what has prompted the change, what the new reality is, and who exactly will be affected and how. Ensure you develop a key message to apply to each audience.
Spokespeople: Choose a spokesperson or spokespeople for each area (as appropriate). The spokesperson should be media trained and freely available for interview or comment for several days after the budget is brought down. If you are doing real time commentary, your spokespeople should be available on the night.
Step 3 – Choose the right format
Different formats suit different kinds of content, so be mindful of this in your planning. For example, a change or announcement likely to have complex ramifications might be worth addressing in a number of formats. A media release to highlight the major effect of the change, plus a later white paper offering more detail can work well. Short sharp tweets using the accepted hashtag can make your presence and expertise felt, while longer form e-newsletters along with the traditional print kind also deliver your audience value. And of course, it all goes onto your website!
Step 4 – Choose the right channel/s
The format you choose will have a serious bearing on the channel you choose – in fact the channel should reflect not what only you are saying, the format in which you are saying it, but also who you are talking to, and where you are likely to find them. So be mindful of where your audiences like to get their information (media, social media, website, eDMs) and plan accordingly. Remember, your response to the Budget is a prime source of great content that should be amplified as much as possible – don’t let it all end on the night.
The bottom line? When it comes to your response to the Federal Budget, prior preparation and planning will not only prevent poor performance, it will help you provide an invaluable service to your clients, not to mention position you as an expert in your field.