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Questioner for Brand Equity

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					Mastering Your Message
   (and the Media)

                       Carol Merry
               Jennifer McQuiston
                           Agenda




•   Messaging Overview
•   Proactive and Reactive Media Relations
•   Tips and Techniques
•   Putting it into Practice
Messaging is the First Step in
 Successful Communication
                 Always Have A Message

•   Always have one
•   Never have more than three
•   Sound bites don’t (usually) come naturally
•   5-10 seconds per message
•   Concise, meaningful, understandable
•   Use examples
•   Practice your delivery
                   Constructing Your Message

• What does your audience need to know?
  • Message

      529 plans are a compelling, tax-advantaged
         way for your family to save for college


  • Supporting points


    1. Families of all income levels can successfully use a 529 plan
    2. Our state offers more than one plan choice
    3. Do your homework to find your best option
               Delivering Your Message

• Messages must be delivered regularly and
  consistently – by everyone in your office who
  talks about 529 plans
• Identify your audiences and modify your
  messages to speak directly to them
• Anticipate questions or confusion
• Challenge your messages from time to time
  (even if no one else does)
Proactive and Reactive
   Media Relations
                  What’s the Difference?

• Proactive media relations
  • Builds awareness
  • Facilitates understanding of an issue or position
  • Develops public image/reputation
• News or outreach initiated by you because you
  have something that the media’s audience will
  be interested in
  • News release
  • Contributed article
  • Expert
                     What’s the Difference?

• Reactive media relations
   • Responds to a request for information
   • Addresses errors and misconceptions
   • Adds another perspective
• Goal is to build relationships
   •   Interview
   •   Call to reporter (before calling editor)
   •   Letter to editor
   •   Blog comment
                   After the Article Appears…

• Determine how to capitalize on positive stories
   • Share with others
   • Link to your website (archive a copy, not just a link)
   • Use to refine your messages and sound bites
• If the article was negative…
   • Promptly address factual errors with the reporter
   • Print retractions/corrections are usually tiny and not
     immediate
   • Assess how much damage was really done
   • Don’t risk ruining a relationship
           CSPN Media Relations Strategy

• Incorporate both proactive and reactive media
  relations
• Push out communication that reinforces the
  CSPN brand:
      CSPN is the only source for comprehensive, 
     accessible, unbiased information on 529 plans

• Rapid response to negative stories,
  inaccuracies or misconceptions
• Outreach to those who have reported on 529
  plans
Tips and Techniques
                      Understand the Media

• Media is not your friend…nor your enemy
                                               Editor
• Reporters want to tell THE story; not        Podcast Host
  YOUR story                                   Photographer
• Someone controls every interview –           Blogger
  either you control it or the interviewer     Reporter
  controls it
• Best way to control the interview is to be
  prepared
• Don’t assume the reporter has done
  his/her homework
• Make it easy for them to get complex
  stories right
• Encourage reporter to get back to you
  with additional questions
               The Importance of Bridging

• If you only answer questions, the interviewer
  has control
• Make a key point and then transition back to
  one of your messages
• Transitional phrases….
  •   “What’s important to remember is…”
  •   “I can’t stress this enough…”
  •   “…but let me tell you this…”
  •   “From my perspective…”
                More Tips and Reminders

• Never take an interview cold call – schedule the
  interview
• Always ask for what the reporter wants to talk about
  so you can prepare prior to the interview
• Be prepared for media calls after news releases
• Don’t speculate – don’t let reporters pull you into
  speculating
• Never, ever lie
• On TV, always look at the questioner, not the
  camera
• If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so –
  conduct additional research and follow up promptly
        Putting it into Practice:
Messaging and Media Relations Scenarios
                     Team Questions


• Who is your audience?

• What are your messages?

• What is your media relations strategy?

• How will you deliver your messages?
                       Scenario #1

 A reporter from your local newspaper received
your press release about 5/29 Day and would like
         to interview you within the hour.
                                    Scenario #2

A biased, inaccurate article about 5/29 plans is printed
           in your state’s largest newspaper:
“It's been a politically popular move for lawmakers to bail out prepaid
college tuition plans that are now going broke, but doing so raises some
potentially troubling questions of equity. Indeed, these bailouts could have
the net impact of forgiving investment losses for middle- and upper-
income families at the expense of low-income people, higher education
researchers say.

“…Parents say they reasonably assumed that paying into plans
"guaranteed" their children would receive a college education, and they're
none too happy to hear state officials now say that investment losses and
skyrocketing tuition increases have put the plans on a path toward
insolvency.”
                                    Scenario #3

 A Senator from your state is quoted in a national
  newspaper inaccurately portraying 529 plans:

“While 529 plans are one way to save, they can be a loose-loose:
when a child goes to college, they hurt a child’s ability to receive
financial aid. And, if a child decides not to go to college, the parent
loses their money.”
                                  Scenario #4

A parent who recently lost funds invested in a 5/29
  plan leaves an angry comment on a local blog:

“I used to rely mainly on my 529 savings plan for my two daughters’
education, but lost more than half of my money. Any new money going
to my kids’ college education is going to something that I manage
myself. I know I could do better than these people, and I can be safer.”

				
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posted:7/23/2011
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