5 Ways to "Power Up" Your Public Affairs Programs

The growth of digital technology has ushered in a new era of how companies effectively engage with stakeholders and communicate on issues. Online outreach and engagement tools are critical components to successfully communicating relevant and timely information to the audiences you need to reach. Here are five tips to help you "power up" your public affairs programs so your messages standout in today's information-charged world.

Create an Issue Room, a "go to" website or microsite populated with engaging, relevant information. Use multi-media content and keep the information well organized and up to date. Consider including an "expert net" that provides information from third-party sources such as academics and think tanks, further validating your point of view. Recent research shows an academic or expert on a company's industry or issues to be the most credible source of corporate information. Your site can also help position appropriate people within your company as experts on the issue.

Don't Assume People Will Find You Online. It is important to utilize search engine optimization and marketing, banner ads, e-mail alerts and other tools to raise awareness of the issue with your key audiences and bring them to your site. Also include the URL and information about the site in all relevant communications with stakeholders.

Encourage people to share their personal stories and content whenever possible. According to the Congressional Management Foundation, "personalized messages almost always trump identical form communications on Capitol Hill." Not only are personal stories more likely to resonate with policymakers, they also resonate with the general public and make your message more engaging and credible.

Include engaging viral content that people can share. Enabling visitors to easily share information from your site and drive others to it is an essential component to broadening the reach of your messages. According to a recent Business Week article, "nothing works better than word of mouse - one friend telling another, 'Hey, look at this!'" The Responsibility Channel on Diageo's Drinkiq.com provides one example of how a variety of experts are sharing information about successful programs to prevent alcohol abuse. This site, created by Diageo and Forum Strategies, recently won the PR News Corporate Social Responsibility award for best Corporate-Community partnership.

Join the on-line conversation. The social networking site, Facebook, says their fastest growing demographic are adults above the age of 35. According to the Pew Research Center, 42% of adults who have a profile on a social networking site said they use social networking to organize with other people for an event, issue, or cause. A recent BlogHer survey found that women are turning in even greater numbers to blogs (55%), social networks (75%) and online status updating (20%) as primary sources of community interaction, entertainment and information. Consider how best to engage in or create the means to engage in a two-way on-line dialogue with your stakeholders.

For more information on how to apply these tips to "power up" your public affairs, issues management, or CSR programs, e-mail or call us at 212-554-2155.