George Osborne’s Budget – A Key Message Masterclass

Whether you applaud George Osborne’s Budget or despair of it, there’s no denying that his Budget speech is a masterclass in messaging. Thanks to detailed and careful preparation, combined with clear, memorable language and critically, evidence, many of the Chancellor’s messages are in today’s headlines and elsewhere in print, online, in social media and on broadcast outlets. Some examples include:

  • A Budget for the next generation
  • Our economy is strong but storm clouds are gathering
  • A Britain prepared for whatever the world throws at us

The Chancellor is in the enviable position of not having to work too hard to get the attention of the media at any time. However, in the run up to the Budget, on Budget Day itself and for days afterwards, there’s a frenzy of media attention. The speech is picked apart, analysed and discussed even as Mr Osborne is delivering it. Within minutes, responses to the speech come from politicians, economists, analysts, activists and many others including, of course, political and economics editors and other journalists. The general public will also have its say across social media. The next day, the Budget will be headline news in print and online newspapers.

The Chancellor and his team know the vital importance of delivering powerful key messages when communicating to the electorate.  It’s the most effective way to shape media coverage and achieve their aims, including maintaining the support of voters, undermining the Opposition, keeping backbenchers happy, positioning Osborne for the leadership of the Conservative Party and keeping Britain inside the EU, to name but a few.

So, what can your organisation learn about key messages from George Osborne’s March 2016 Budget speech? Here are our top three tips;

  1. THINK HEADLINES

Punchy, concise, memorable phrases make great headlines. Make sure you consider what your ideal headline would be if the media were covering your story. Include these phrases in your interview answers/press releases/briefings with journalists and there’s a strong chance they’ll appear in the resulting coverage.

  1. INVEST TIME AND EFFORT GATHERING EVIDENCE

Many spokespeople fail to get their message across or appear credible and authoritative because they make statements without providing compelling evidence. Without evidence, a statement (eg: “This is a Budget for the next generation”) may be seen merely as an empty platitude. When crafting your organisation’s key messages, invest time and effort in gathering compelling evidence/examples, such as:

  • Case studies
  • Independent reports
  • New statistics
  1. USE THE ‘PEP’ TECHNIQUE

Delegates attending TNR Media Training are taught ‘PEP’ and our Journalist Media Trainers help them refine their key messages using this technique. In summary, when delivering your organisation’s message, the audience is more likely to remember it if you:

  • Make your Point
  • Back it up with Evidence, Examples or Explanation
  • Repeat your Point (preferably in different words)

 

Bridgid Nzekwu is Head of Media Training at TNR, Press Association

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