Yet optimising media opportunities and communicating in a way that ensures strong audience engagement is something that many people struggle with. Crucially, the principles underpinning good communication remain the same whether you’re interacting with traditional media (such as newspapers, radio, TV and magazines), or new media (such as Facebook, Twitter or Internet blogs). With this in mind, there are several key rules that must be observed.
- Identify your target audience. Too many people make the mistake of approaching a communications task by first determining what they want to say and how they want to say it without any concern for how it might be received by the audience.
- Adjust your delivery style to accommodate your intended audience. Ask yourself: Who are they? What is it that is relevant to them? What is it that’s most likely to engage them? Your subsequent communication must be relevant and engaging and written in a way that is easily understood.
- Encapsulate your key message or story at the very beginning of your communication - then produce the evidence, background and facts to support that story. In essence, this is the opposite approach to producing an academic work or report.
- Develop your communication around stories about people. This will enable to you to instantly connect with your audience. You might be writing about a particular piece of research, but the focus should be on its implications for real people.
- Be aware of the word length framework you have to work with and adhere to it diligently. This may range from 140 characters (the Twitter limit), to 700 words for a newspaper opinion piece, or even 3000 words for a major feature. While writing to short word limits is difficult, it’s important to remember that there isn’t a single story in the world that can’t be told in a single sentence.