Reaching Public Policy Audiences: Choosing the Right Words & Platforms

by Danny Selnick, Vice President, Public Policy Services, Business Wire DC

BW VP of Public Policy Services Danny Selnick

November’s mid-term elections are over and voters and pundits can talk ad infinitum about who’s in, who’s out, and why — and even what challenges President Obama and his administration face because of the shift in power in the House and a narrowing of the margin for Democrats in the Senate.

We’re sure to see Republicans (and Tea-Party members) try to overturn sections of the recently passed Healthcare Reform Bill.  There’s also talk of repealing recently passed financial and oil industry regulations.  Then there’s the issue of keeping or repealing the “Bush Era Tax Cuts,” the need to balance the federal budget, and free trade — all against the backdrop of creating jobs and getting the economy working again.  Still on the long list of agenda items for Congress and the Administration are education and energy reform.  One thing’s for sure: there will be no shortage of important issues coming up over the next two years.

With “divided government” the new reality in Washington, organizations need to develop a coherent communications strategy to begin building support for “what’s near and dear to them” in advance of when their issue comes up for discussion.  In some cases (like the expected attempt to dismantle parts of the Healthcare Reform Bill) an issue may be “push-started or stalled” at the state level.  Communicators must get their message out not just to media, but also to decision-makers — and perhaps even more importantly, to the voting public directly in order to engage and mobilize support at a grassroots level.  That’s especially true because, as shown in this last three election cycles, the court of public opinion (and voting behavior) is highly fluid.

Public affairs communicators are faced with a variety of challenges as to how they can effectively get their news into the hands of all their intended audiences.  Engaging online audiences, from journalists to activists, helps boost visibility and credibility.  But, first you have to learn and analyze the most popular terms and keywords used to frame issues in media coverage, social media conversations and online searches.  This information can help guide you in writing press releases and other online communications that improves search engine optimization (SEO).

For example, there aren’t universally agreed upon terms to define many of our nation’s debates (one person’s Obamacare is another person’s landmark healthcare legislation), so knowing and researching those terms and their weighted influence on audiences is critical to communications outreach — affecting how your news is seen and viewed and by whom.  A number of free keyword analysis tools are available, and Business Wire experts have written a number of blog posts that detail SEO tips for press releases.

Once you’ve crafted a well-written press release with relevant keywords (and modified landing pages with matching terms), it’s crucial to get your news widely disseminated by an authoritative source to relevant media, influencers, websites and search engines in addition to the individual outreach to your personal contacts.  That’s where we come in.  Business Wire provides a multi-platform approach to news distribution that goes beyond simply emailing and posting news to your website.  While email is just one distribution tool used by communicators, it is limited in reach to contacts on a particular list … and its accuracy is dependent upon any last updates. The newswire, is designed to reach “desks” of reporters and editors, decision-makers at the federal and/or state level with direct feeds, and to give unparalleled online visibility with advanced SEO capabilities and full-text posting to thousands of news and information web sites and systems.  Plus, Business Wire content is a trusted, authoritative news source by Google and other search engines, as well as major news organizations.

Proper use of keywords in a well-written, engaging press release, issued via Business Wire’s Public Policy Wire is among the most effective ways to reach directly key audiences, while engaging the public in your conversation.

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