When the Worlds of Policy and Communication Collide

The parallels between policy and communication are uncanny. To succeed in either, there are key steps to take.

I’m a policy nerd. Okay, there, I said it.

As a long-time junkie, I religiously follow legislation, I live for debates, my social media feed is lined with elected officials and Leslie Knope is my role model. You might be wondering how a policy nerd ends up at a communications consulting firm. The answer is simple — people matter in both policy and communications. And people have been a crucial part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Growing up, I spent an excessive amount of time outdoors. Whether playing basketball with my dad, watering flowers with my mom or operating my own vet clinic in our garage, I lived for those moments. Looking back now, I don’t think it was the fresh air that I was living for. It was the opportunity to interact with people and create change. Left-handed layups got easier, flowers bloomed and kittens grew all because of my actions. Well, maybe not so much with the kittens, but you get what I’m saying.

Decades later, the love affair with inspiring change continues. The parallels between policy and communication are uncanny. To succeed in either, there are key steps to take. Here’s how the two worlds collide.

Know Your Facts

Whether you are forming tax policy or creating an annual report, facts matter. Collect as much information as you can. Talk to the people impacted and let the powerful truth speak for itself.

Know Your Audience

Never underestimate the power of flexing to your audience. They determine everything from content to timing to implementation. People are creatures of habit. To achieve desired results, listen to what has and hasn’t worked in the past.

Have a Plan

Take a lesson from the Knope playbook — arm yourself with a (digital) binder. Set goals and strategies. Seek a realistic way to get your target audience involved. From the start, identify the challenge, what steps you will take to reach a solution and what will determine a successful result.

The Media is Your Friend

Sharing a message with a wider audience has never been easier or more effective. Create a mutually beneficial relationship. Reporters shouldn’t be expected to be subject matter experts on everything. You have the facts — share them. The easier you can make a reporter’s job, the more likely you are to secure future coverage.

Look at the Data

Numbers don’t lie. Data constantly demonstrates why a policy or tactic is needed and allows for optimization and personalization across the board. It is a concrete way to ignite purpose among internal and external audiences.

Repeat Your Message Over and Over Again

In a modern society, the cadence of your messaging is vital in getting the point across. Find the perfect balance between consistent and persistent. If the message is more nuanced, consider using How to Shoot an Arrow to make the information more accessible.

What’s the takeaway when policy and communication worlds collide? For me, it has been that people are important. Relationships matter. Policy makers and communicators, alike, should pay attention to both.