Top 10 Fundamentals of Effective PR

Top 10 Fundamentals of Effective Communications. The 10 communications strategies you need to understand and apply in order to be effective in communicating

By Ray Hanania

1 – It’s not about you. Effective communications is about the audience. You need to speak to the audience in a way they will listen. You need to speak to the audience in the way they want to hear. You need to speak to the audience in a way that is appealing to them. You have to take what is of interest to you, and make it of interest to the audience.

When speaking to Americans, you need to be able to speak more than “English.” You need to speak “American.” That means you must speak the language of familiarity. The greater the familiarity factor in the relationship between you as the speaker and the person as the audience, the more you will be able to connect effectively and more effectively deliver your message to that person or audience.

Don’t talk about yourself. Talk about the audience, the person or persons you are speaking too. That makes the audience more likely to listen. Just as human loves to talk about themselves, they even more love to have people talk about them in a positive manner. Take your message and make it interesting to them.

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2 – It’s not what you say, but how you say it. The “how you say it” includes everything from the language you speak and the words you use, to the image that you convey while you speak. What you look like to the audience is significant in effective communications. The more you look and sound like the person you are speaking too, the more they will absorb of what you are saying. Or, to state it another way, the more different you are from the person you are speaking to, the harder it will be for them to focus on your message.

3 – You can’t win the argument unless you win the audience first.

4 – Perception is reality, especially in societies dominated by communications. The public has a view of you and everything, even more today than before because of the pervasiveness of the Internet.

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5 – When we talk about the communications profession, we are talking about more than just one thing. We are talking about media in the plural. Media includes the news media. It includes television. It includes television news and television sitcoms and programs. It includes Hollywood movies and theater. It includes movies you watch on the big screen on your iPhone. It includes performances like standup comedy, and books that you read or listen to in your car or on you iPod.

6 – Humor is a very effective form of communications. Humor leaves the most permanent mark on the mind of the audience. The audience already “knows” something about you and anything you have to say. Today’s audience is opinionated, even when they claim to not have an opinion. Every great speaker knows that the best way to open a speech is to start with a joke. The more the humor is pertinent to the audience, the more they will respond and open up. True laughter is really involuntary. Humor can break down barriers of suspicion. When someone laughs, you have moved a significant step towards them in terms of increasing the familiarity factor. Humor helps to create a bond with the audience.

7 – Confrontation is the worst way to inform. Familiarity is the most effective way to inform. The more the audience identifies with you, the more likely they will believe what you have to say. The more you are a “friend” to the audience, the more they will believe you. The more you look and sound like the audience, and the less different that you are, the more the audience will sympathize with you, have compassion for your cause and will more easily embrace your message.

Anger, emotion and anger that is perceived as hatred can become very destructive to your messaging.

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8 – Controversy is an opportunity for you to take the stage and control it, when you are prepared for the fight. They say “There is no such thing as bad publicity, only publicity, good or bad.” The truth is that if you get “bad publicity,” it is because you failed to exploit the opportunity of controversy and allowed it to be “bad.”

9 – Be concise. Understand how to say less. Say less and you say more. There is a point where too much information is overwhelming, even to a diehard friend or fan. At some point, the message gets lost in the “love” the audience has for you. Although you want the audience to support you, and embrace your message, you also want them to absorb the core of your message. They open up and you deliver the message. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. Stay focused. A message needs a focus. Your presentation should consist of five of the most important, concise points you want to make. Know those five points and repeat them over and over. Give the audience just enough, but not too much. Create a need or a demand from the audience for more information and then learn to feed that hunger. Get them to “want” you to tell them more. Don’t force anything on anyone.

10 – The process of effective communications has to do with the relationships you establish between yourself, the messenger, and the person you are speaking to, the audience. You need to know your audience. In fact, audiences can be divided among different audiences. An audience can consist of many audiences and you need to craft your message – the SAME MESSAGE SUBSTANCE – in different ways to different audiences. Obviously, one difference is in the use of language. If your audience speaks Polish, you would deliver the message to them in Polish, not English. But that’s just one aspect of partnering a message with an audience. You can change the context of a message to reflect the context of the audience you are addressing.

Who is the audience?

The most important thing to remember is that effective communications is about the person you are talking to. What do you need to get that person to accept what you are saying? If you make communications about yourself, you will lose. If you make it about the person you are trying to reach, you will win. The pen is mightier than the sword, and in this case, the pen is communications. You CAN make a difference. But you have set aside your ego. You have to sacrifice, yourself, and do something you might not want to do. You have to step aside if you can’t speak English perfectly and in the context of the baseball vernacular of American audiences, if the American is your target. If you are willing to do that, and if you follow the experienced advice I offer in this book, you can change the most rigid mind. You can reverse the irreversible. You can take an enemy and make them into a friend.

Strategic communications can do anything and make anything happen. Human beings are flexible. They have the power to be stubborn and the power to also change. They can be rigid and then flexible. Make them know you. Make them understand you. Make them feel sympathy with your cause through effective, professional and strategic communications.

This book will help those who have been left out of the mainstream media and communications system and give them the tools and the motivation to break through the bias and change the dynamics of the debate. This book is for the

“Minority Minorities,” those people who are the MARGINALIZED MINORITIES who have been pushed out by the Biased Mainstream News Media, who have been away from the table where decisions are made, who have been left out of the News Media process, and who are not among the small group of “Majority Minorities” who HAVE been allowed to sit at the table.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. His website is www.RayHanania.com. Email him and share your views at rghanania@gmail.com.)