Isn’t Facebook having a hard time lately? If I had to hazard a guess, and you know I want to, I’d say every communications university program across the country, well, across the world, probably, includes Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent in their curriculum. It’s all very intellectual and interesting- here’s the Wiki version- but the basic premise is that news and information is manufactured by those with influence (political, financial, cultural), who use the mass media to deliver their self-serving agendas to the community. In my Master of Communications program, a fellow student wrote a fantastic thesis about how the principles of Manufacturing Consent are applied in the radio media, specifically talk back, to create public backlash. My colleague’s premise was that the shock jock audience weren’t upset about an issue, or aware of an issue, until their leader ignited their moral outrage. The whole concept as I’ve described it is quite depressing, really, isn’t it?
I was reminded of Manufacturing Consent and manufacturing outrage recently, when a client was invited to address a Senate Inquiry. I had a quick read of my client’s submission to the Inquiry, and was personally quite staggered by some of the evidence they presented. I had a brief consult with my client about the public invisibility of this issue, and advised them that they needed the absolute opposite of an issues management strategy.
They need to manufacture some outrage, stat.
So what is the best way to get people to connect with your cause? A full communications campaign created by an experienced and skilled communications consultant (here’s my favourite) will offer a multitude of approaches across a range of media, but if you’re limited to a direct email campaign or a media release here’s a little checklist to have in the back of your mind as you’re drafting:
- Give an overview and background to the issue so readers have a very clear idea about what the problem is, and why it’s a problem for them.
- Be impassioned and personable, but be cool.
- Use clear language that cuts to the core of the issue as it applies to your reader.
- Get to the point and keep it simple- don’t overwhelm. In The Birdcage, Gene Hackman’s character said ‘People don’t trust details; they trust headlines.’
- Get your header perfect.
- Have a clear call to action for readers to follow.
Apply these principles, and you’ll have a really effective tool to raise awareness of your issue. And as always, I’m happy to help- just get in touch and together we’ll manufacture some good, old-fashioned outrage.
Tell me, do you get fired up easily?
This is a post in my Communications Toolkit series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my communications bag of tricks. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.