There are five qualities that are essential to being an effective communicator.
First and foremost, you have to be accurate. You must always be truthful and build a reputation with the media as someone they can trust. The quality of the information you provide can never be compromised, because reporters will take the information you give them and make it their own.
Be timely. Reporters, journalists, producers, and bloggers often work under intense pressure and on difficult deadlines. They need information by a certain time or it may no longer be useful to them. You must be sensitive to the deadline pressures they face and do everything you can to work with them in a timely fashion. The best way to get ahead of a story is to set the terms of debate from the very beginning. Get out in front of a story and define it on your terms. When possible, prepare your statements and even press releases, op-eds, videos, white papers, or other materials in advance.
Be a happy warrior. Public policy organizations of all types are often found complaining about something. Don’t join them. Dale Carnegie once wrote that “any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain—and most fools do.” You will be much more successful and respected if you remain optimistic and confident. Develop a reputation of being someone who, regardless of his situation, is always positive and a pleasure to work with.
Be thorough. Understand your issues better than anyone else, especially the people that you’re up against. Be prepared by reading, reviewing, and preparing all necessary materials in advance. Your goal is to provide every reporter with enough information to write a complete story. Anticipate their questions and their desires.
Be honest and open. Do not hide information or manipulate the truth. And don’t work for an organization that does. Always be honest and see that your mission and objectives are transparent. In 1934, the NAACP made it clear in their annual report that they were engaging in a long-term plan to end segregation in public schools. And that a fundamental part of their campaign was to set the terms of debate and win over public opinion. It was quite a lofty goal for the 1930s. And yet they were honest and open—and wildly successful. It took 20 years, but in 1954 they successfully turned their dream into a reality.
In a nutshell, you must be accurate, timely, positive, thorough, and honest. No exceptions.
The liberty movement needs effective communicators. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to.”
Become a communications expert and you will set the terms of debate that sway public opinion and effectively advance liberty. You can, in a very real sense, change the world.
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