Posts tagged ‘Brad Fitch’

5 Mistakes to Avoid in a Crisis

Trying to avoid a crisis with the media may be well and good, but the fact is that a crisis can not always be avoided. When one does occur, it is essential to know how to handle it, and, as importantly, what you should not do.

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1. Ignore the problem
One of the most common reactions to a crisis is to ignore it and hope it goes away. This rarely works, especially when it is a media crisis. When you have a crisis, you must meet it head on and deal with it immediately.

2. Not changing your decision making model
One of the most common mistakes organizations make is to try to overcome the problem by working harder. Whenever there is a communication crisis, a team that is already overworked suddenly must take on even more of a burden. To effectively deal with the crisis, new decision making protocols must be established. In some cases, you may need to form a completely separate Media Relations Handbook, by Bradford Fitchcommunications team to specifically address that crisis.

3. Allowing lawyers to direct public relations policy
While it may be advisable to have the best attorney representing you if you go to court, when you are facing a crisis in the media you need an expert on the court of public opinion. Choose the right advocate to handle the right battleground.

4. Withholding information
If you attempt to withhold information, it will eventually come out. When that happens, it will add to the crisis and make it appear as if you are trying to hide something.

5. Not immediately correcting errors
The public understands that people are human and will, from time to time, make mistakes. When a mistake is made during a communications crisis, it is going to be amplified. If you say something erroneous, do not hesitate to correct it immediately. Failure to do so will only cause reporters to believe that you misled them on purpose. The result? They might just tell a few million listeners or readers that you deliberately deceived them. It is far better to come clean and own up to your mistake and correct it on your own.

To learn more about how to effectively handle a media crisis, consider TheCapitol.Net’s Advanced Media Relations Workshop.

Reference: Media Relations Handbook, by Brad Fitch, Section 12.15 Eight Mistakes to Avoid in a Crisis

For more information about media training from TheCapitol.Net, see these resources:

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“Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials” Author on C-SPAN

The author appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal to discuss Citizen's Handbook

Bradford Fitch talked about his book Citizen’s Handbook Citizen's Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: Citizen Advocacy in State Legislatures and Congress: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates, by Brad Fitchto Influencing Elected Officials. Despite conventional wisdom about the power lobbyists have in Washington DC, Mr. Fitch believes that a well-informed constituency can be a driving force in swaying elected officials. The book offers advice on how to approach members of Congress, the value of being informed and more importantly how to inform members about the impact of their decisions and how to deal with a Congressperson’s support staff. He also responded to telephone calls and electronic communications.

Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, November 26, 2010

From a reader:

If you don’t like “special interests” in Congress, the solution is MORE citizen involvement, not less. A cynic might be forgiven for thinking many of those folks saying constituents communicating with their elected representatives doesn’t change anything are themselves on the payrolls of special interests, deliberately encouraging constituent apathy and passivity.

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Connecting your Message with your Audience

When you develop a communications plan, the goal is to get your message across to your intended audience. To connect your message with your audience, there are six common techniques you can use to accomplish your goal.

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Statistics
One of the most persuasive tools in any communication plan is the use of numbers. However, make sure your numbers are solidly researched. Research them, double-check them, and then check them again. Statistics can be moving targets and you do not want to find yourself in a position of delivering a message that contains outdated or inaccurate statistics. One outdated or incorrect fact can cause the audience to question the remainder of your message.

Example
Convey to your audience specific examples. Examples allow you to illustrate to–and connect with–the audience the way in which something functions in the real world. Do not just tell your audience something; provide them with an example that demonstrates how your proposal provides specific benefits.

Demonstration
Demonstrations can also be quite persuasive regarding any issue related to technology Media Relations Handbook, by Bradford Fitchor science. Taking your audience through a piece of software or a website is much more effective than simply trying to convey that experience through the use of words.

Analogy
Analogies can be extremely powerful. Analogies provide an easy way for the audience to connect to your message–they also provide interest and appeal to your presentation.

Testimonials
Bringing out a real individual who can tell a real story is much more persuasive than trying to use an expert or politician to get your message across to the audience. It is one thing to tell your audience something and something entirely different to hear the same thing from a real person that inspires compassion in the audience.

Experience
Another effective technique is to draw upon the memories of the audience and their own life experiences in order to persuade them of your position. Personal memories and experiences are powerful and compelling.

To learn more about connecting with your audience and communicating effectively with the media, consider our Advanced Media Relations Workshop.

Reference: Media Relations Handbook, by Brad Fitch, Section 3.10 How to Connect your Message with your Audience.

For more information about media training from TheCapitol.Net, see these resources:

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Who Really Has the Power in Washington? The Surprise Answer: Ordinary American Citizens

Feeling shut out of the political process by lobbyists and special interests? Insider Bradford Fitch has some good news for you: As it turns out, you’re the one in charge—NOT those rich and powerful lobbyists.

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Brad Fitch’s latest book, Citizen’s Handbook To Influencing Elected Officials: Citizen Advocacy in State Legislatures and Congress: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates, makes a compelling case for the power of the ordinary citizen to influence members of Congress—IF you understand how to do it right.

Fitch, who worked on Capitol Hill for 13 years as press secretary, legislative director, and chief of staff for four different members of Congress, interviewed dozens of Senators, members of the House of Citizen's Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: Citizen Advocacy in State Legislatures and Congress: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates, by Brad FitchRepresentatives, and key staff to provide a comprehensive guide to getting members of Congress to listen—and act.

And according to these consummate Washington insiders, the real power in Washington is neither in huge campaign donations, nor in high-pressure special interest campaigns. Rather, the power rests with the well-informed, well-prepared, polite but persuasive constituent. Yes, ordinary citizens can gain access, be heard, and see their input influence the way a member of Congress votes.

Some key points:

  • It’s much easier to influence a decision before the Member makes a public commitment.
  • Personal stories trump everything.
  • Provide useful information, and you’ll be rewarded with access: “The most valuable gift a lobbyist gives a member of Congress isn’t a campaign contribution—it’s a detailed analysis of how a particular issue affects the lawmaker’s district or state”.
  • When you speak for a larger group, your words carry more weight: “One House Democrat…summed it up. ‘Their money is beside the point. They can mobilize and intensify a group of motivated constituents who can put the fear of God in members of Congress”. But preparedness can outweigh numbers.

The book includes several success tips checklists, including ten points to manage a face-to-face meeting, seven hints to get written communications noticed, and six things staffers look for in a phone call. A matrix chart of how legislators rank different issues is one of eight useful appendices. The book also includes the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

For more information about Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials, including sample section and secure online ordering, see CitizensHandbook.com

2010, 128 pages
Softcover, $11.95
ISBN 10: 1587331810
ISBN 13: 9781587331817

Ebook: $7.99
EISBN 13: 9781587332326

Journalists and Bloggers: to request interviews and review copies, contact the publisher: 703-739-3790, ext. 0, or use this form.

BusinessWire: http://eon.businesswire.com/news/eon/20101109005007/en/

Coming soon: A Better Congress: Change the Rules, Change the Results: A Modest Proposal – Citizen’s Guide to Legislative Reform, by Joseph Gibson

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Your Guide to “Off the Record”

The term “off the record” is commonly expressed and heard, but it can be easily misunderstood. Whenever you find yourself in a situation where you must deal with the media it is imperative that you understand what “off the record” really means.

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The common wisdom in Washington is that if you do not want to read about it on the front page of the newspaper, do not say it or write it, and, if you can, do not even think it. In some cases reporters have been known to burn sources they once promised to protect. Even so, the “off the record” tool can be effective provided that you know how to effectively use it.

In journalism school “off the record” is commonly taught to mean that specified information will only be known to the source, the reporter, and in some cases their editor. Off the record information will not be used in the story. By going off the record you gain the opportunity to communicate with the media without being quoted. You must determine how much you trust the reporter before you decide to employ this tactic. If you have worked with that reporter previously and have established a good rapport with them, you may feel more comfortable about going off the record. On the other hand, if you have never previously worked with that reporter you would certainly have good reason for being wary of talking with them, even off the record.

Always negotiate in advance what “off the record” actually means to that particular reporter. Not everyone defines it in the same manner, so be clear about what it means with each reporter.

While “off the record” generally means that information will not be used publicly or shared with anyone else, there are also two other terms you need to be familiar with. They are “on background” and “on deep Media Relations Handbook, by Bradford Fitchbackground.”

The term “on background” indicates that information may be used but the source will not be specifically identified. The source may be described in general terms. The term “on deep background” indicates that information may be used but the source will not be identified in any manner whatsoever.

Understanding these critical terms can help you to develop a better relationship with the media as well as understanding the best way to utilize media tools for your advantage.

To learn more about working with the media, consider TheCapitol.Net’s course Media Relations for Public Affairs Professionals: Media Relations 101, and their Advanced Media Relations Workshop.

Reference: Media Relations Handbook, by Brad Fitch, Section 4.12 Off the Record.

For more information about media training from TheCapitol.Net, see these resources:

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