Public Affairs: best use of websites and positions papers

Two staples of the PA comms suite in Brussels are policy focused websites and position papers. They’re usually chockerblock with useful stuff, but in most cases, fall prey of being too detailed. A majority of your audience will not be experts, although some will, so a range of knowledge levels must always be respected. As my colleague Aaron frequently says: most MEPs are lawyers – not scientists, engineers or economists.

Hardly rocket science, but these two triangles illustrate what I mean in a tad more detail.

On websites, a site visitor should first be presented with easy access to basic information, and if he or she wants more detailed information, or even highly advanced information aimed at experts, they’ll find it by clicking further. Some sites do this, but most don’t: they’ll either not cover all levels of detail, or they’ll be overly detailed from the off.

Position papers are always detailed by nature, albeit to varying degrees. That’s fine, but the issue is that they’re frequently left unread because of it. What’s missing is that the position paper is never broken down into smaller bits. There are real opportunities here, given that a position paper represents an organisation’s detailed and virtually complete vision of an issue, so the building blocks are all there. Meaning what? Take the information and do one or more of the following:

  • Create an alternative version in 10 bullet points or structured like an FAQ
  • Create an executive summary in visual form (infographic)
  • Feature the author(s) in a video, podcast (or series of) describing its contents
  • Create a series of online news items, blog posts or whatever, each highlighting one section of the position paper
  • Publish a series of tweets highlighting the key points and a link through to the detailed paper
  • … And market each item heavily


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