Realistic expectations in issues communications

Corporate issues communicators often have unrealistic expectations.

A typical exchange:

  • Our programme isn’t working
  • What are you trying to do?
  • Change people’s opinion of us. We want them to understand that we’re good, not bad. They just need to hear our story. But we’re drowned out. We have less than 1% share of voice on the issue although we keep pumping out our message across multiple channels.
  • Who are you targeting?
  • Everyone.
  • Where?
  • Globally.
  • Do you localise?
  • No, it’s all in English.
  • Any idea about what might make people change their minds?
  • Not really.
  • How many people have you got?
  • Two, including a consultant on a tiny retainer.

At the risk of stating the obvious:

  1. Affecting influence and/or a change in opinion requires a fairly hefty investment (budget and people).
  2. Changing opinion is very difficult; you’re better off targeting people with no opinion!
  3. In either case, influence/change requires a deep understanding of what could affect a shift and an apposite strategy, not just publishing lots of “stuff”.
  4. The other side (i.e. activists) are better funded and approach campaigns strategically. They’re targeting you because they know they can win.
  5. Global campaigns are usually pointless. Always focus on markets in which influence/change is most realistic.

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