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How to make a big announcement
Reading time: Less than 2 minutes
If your company or group has something to announce — especially if it might be considered negative — you need to do some planning first. Here’s how to make a big announcement…
Planning an announcement is a little bit like launching a book or a new product. Details matter! Here are five questions you should be able to answer:
1. Who is your media spokesperson? It’s a good idea to identify ONE person and make him or her the only person who speaks on behalf of the company on this issue. This is important because it ensures your messages are consistent and it allows you to train just one person. But here’s the thing that many companies forget: they don’t tell their own organization who this spokesperson is. In particular, ensure that anyone who answers the phone knows the name of this person and how to reach him or her quickly (ideally by cellphone.)
2. What are your key messages? No matter how big the issue, you should be able to boil it down to three key messages. These messages should address most of the serious questions that the general public will have about your issue (so spend some time crafting them.) I will write more about key messages next week.
3. What is the timing of your announcement? If you have bad news, Friday afternoons are a good time to announce. (Fewer people watch TV news on the weekends and most daily newspapers have their weekend editions wrapped up early.) If you have good news, you want to try for a Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday morning. Do it in time to catch the noon news.
4. What supporting materials are you going to make available? Think about press releases, biographies, backgrounders, web materials (including FAQs) and photographs. Consider hiring a professional proofreader to review the material before you release it. You don’t want any mistakes.
5. When are you going to tell your employees? Many companies fixate on the media and forget about the need to inform their own employees. When I worked in the newspaper business, the company usually made its announcements at 6:30 am which meant that most employees heard the news about themselves on the radio on their way in to work. No employees (especially not media employees) like to be informed this way. Frequently — perhaps for legal reasons — you can’t avoid the problem but be sure to consider it and see if you can come up with a creative solution.
Yes, making a big announcement can be stressful, but you can minimize the stress with careful planning.
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