Want to handle media interviews with greater confidence? Want to deliver more persuasive presentations? Want to write more effective PR copy and social media posts?
The following approaches will help you stay on point—whether you’re crafting a speech or drafting a news release:
1. Persuade with repetition. Persuasive presentations and convincing media interviews often boil down to repeating your message—sometimes a lot.
“People get tired of delivering a concept over and over, but it’s the audience that matters,” says Tripp Frohlichstein, the media trainer and founder of MediaMasters who helped create the popular message map concept. “The message may be new to them—so it bears repeating. Or even if it’s understood, repetition adds to its importance.”
“Repetition can have a positive effect on someone’s reception of and agreement with a persuasive argument,” John T. Cacioppo and Richard Petty reported in Basic and Applied Social Psychology(“Effects of Repetition on Argument Processing, Recall and Persuasion”).
Similarly, “People rate statements that have been repeated just once as more valid or true than things they’ve heard for the first time,” researchers Ian Begg, Ann Anas and Suzanne Farinacci wrote in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
Moreover, says Frohlichstein, people don’t hear every word you say in a presentation—so repetition increases the odds your message will be heard.
2. Write the way you talk. This makes it easy for people to read and absorb your copy, says Frohlichstein. Similarly, “Avoid fancy words,” he warns. “Even if people understand these words, they have to translate in their heads. For example, I could write that our company makes ‘solid sate barrier access controls’ or simply say ‘we make doorknobs.’”
This means being conversational, not sloppy, in your writing. Rules of grammar, syntax and punctuation still apply. It’s simply a call to ditch jargon and those words that add syllables without improving clarity or meaning.
Be careful, too, of what he calls “mumblespeak,” like these examples from a news release announcing the benefits of a hospital’s new emergency department:
- “Cultural transformation to enhance knowledge and skills and eliminate stereotypes.”
- “Organizational transformation to sustain the innovation.”
- “Physical transformation to optimize the sensory experience.”
3. Embrace WIIFM. Most PR pros teach spokespeople to bridge back to “home base” messages in speeches, presentations and media interviews. However, many of these messages fall flat because they fail to address the “What’s In It For Me?” question for audiences.
“Too many organizations create a home base message that is important to them and not their audience,” explains Frohlichstein. “Would you buy a car from GM if its message was, ‘We are the leader in making cars’?” he asks. Likely not.
You would be more likely to look into their vehicles if the message was, “Our cars will make driving a wonderful experience,” assuming they support the claim with appropriate proof points.
Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager for PR Daily’s PR University. Tripp Frohlichstein, who helped create the concept of message mapping, shares more insights in the PR University webinar,“ PR Message Maps: The key to a powerful PR strategy, copy and results.”