The federal government offers many free tools that are useful to communicators regardless of where they work. One of these is “Promoting Your Public Report: A Hands-On Guide,” (available in PDF and online), published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
I stumbled across this helpful guide and found it both comprehensive and concise. You can use it strictly for promoting publications, or more broadly when informing the public about other matters.
The intended purpose of the document is to help you plan ahead of time for major announcements, by considering all the ways in which you might communicate about them. But there is another, potentially far more powerful way to use it. And that is to develop templates that in effect multiply your efforts a thousand fold, by helping your partners to customize and share your message as it suits their needs.
This type of communication functions like “semi-homemade cooking,” mixing basic elements that you provide (e.g., information and answers to frequently asked questions) with elements that your partners find independently relevant.
One example of this, which appears below, is a brief stakeholder email. The email is comprised of three parts:
- Brief introduction – “bottom line up front” – what is this and why does it matter.
- Suggested path forward for sharing the information – concise and linear.
- Links to supporting materials – general text for announcements, fact sheet, and anticipated questions and answers.
Here is the text of the email. Material to be customized appears in brackets. Of course, you can customize the template as you wish, including adding links to social media, interactive educational tools, event announcements, and so on:
On [date], [name] [did or will] [insert action here]. [Offer a bit more detail as to what this means and why it’s important – 1-2 sentences.] The purpose of this email is to assist you, as our partner in coordinated communication, to promote the report to your audiences at the right time.
Below is a timeline and six suggested steps to take. Also included are a few supporting materials to help make this process as easy as possible for you or your communication team.
TIMELINE AND SUGGESTED STEPS (leading up to and including when the report becomes public):
- [DATE RANGE]. Issue announcement to key audience/s about this initiative. Use the fact sheet and frequently asked questions (below).
- [DATE RANGE]. Include articles in internal newsletter(s) to your audience about your involvement in this effort as part of your commitment to [major goal of this stakeholder group]. Don’t forget to mention the launch date, which will be [Month ##].
- [DATE RANGE]. Include articles in external newsletter(s) to your audience about your involvement in this effort as part of your commitment to [major goal of this stakeholder group]. Include the launch date of [Month ##], plus the [initiative]’s Web address ([add URL here]) for questions.
- [X days before launch] Share the list of Questions & Answers with internal staff /employee leaders. Refer questions to [insert POC] by Emailing [EMAIL ADDRESS HERE] or calling [(###) ###-####].
- [DAY of REPORT RELEASE] Email an announcement (attached) to your leadership and employees about the report along with the link to the initiative, which will be [URL here].
- [DAY OF REPORT RELEASE] Link the initiative website to your intranet and public Web site.
- General Text for Announcements. [INSERT URL – SUBPAGE WITHIN INITIATIVE WEB PAGE] (Customize text before sending it.)
- Fact Sheet. [INSERT URL – SUBPAGE WITHIN INITIATIVE WEB PAGE]
- Questions & Answers (a.k.a. Frequently Asked Questions). [INSERT URL – SUBPAGE WITHIN INITIATIVE WEB PAGE]
By taking a coordinated approach, we will increase the number of people who are aware of the initiative, which is the first step toward using it to [insert major goal].
Thank you for your willingness to do your part in sharing this information with the public. Please let us know if you have any questions.
By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author’s own. Public Domain. Photo via Wikipedia.