6 tips to persuasive writing about policy issues

Thursday, June 17, 2010

We're communicators but sometimes people ask us about how communications techniques can help in other kinds of work. Fundraising, policy development, even human resources work. Here are six tips we’ve pulled together for writing about policy issues to help connect better with people. Can you think of more?

  1. Think of your audience first – What do they want fixed? How would they talk about these issues? Make sure their voice is in your writing so when your spokespeople talk, they have policy language that sounds like real people.
  2. Get strategic – Narrow your focus to one thing at a time. The other side’s biggest weakness in a policy area. "They are doing this, when they should be doing that." What they are getting wrong and what do we need to do to fix it.
  3. Sell me the problem – People should care about this issue because it hurts them in a specific way. Spell it out. Don't assume your audience knows about the problem.
  4. Use storytelling – Specific stories can humanize what can be dry policy, and spokespeople can tell and retell the same stories of people's real life experiences.
  5. Sell me the solution – Make sure the solution focuses on the benefits of what the new policy will be to people and not just the policy or legislation itself.
  6. To cut through, formatting matters – Use headlines to deliver the important stuff. Use bullet points to highlight important details. People skim and don’t read full copy, so include your messages, contrasts, problems and solutions as summaries in the headlines and details in bullet points.