/writing/ Educate To Persuade

MANY OF OUR organizational communications products focus on educating our audience.

We develop a brochure to help a prospective donor orient themselves with our work. We launch a radio PSA campaign so that a population understands how basic health practices can improve their lives.

We as an audience don’t like what we don’t understand. And if we don’t understand, we won’t change our behavior.

Education, though, is ultimately a building block for a more powerful outcome: persuasion. Our campaigns should drive actual changes in mindsets or behaviors.

So, it’s our responsibility as a communications team to establish that baseline of understanding in each of our products.

Let’s think about a product as if it were a face-to-face conversation.

You make your introduction – “This is my organization”. The audience asks a question if it doesn’t understand – “Okay, what do you do?”

You provide the answer – “We support farmers with new agricultural inputs”. They still don’t fully understand – “What types of farmers? In what locations?” And back and forth until there’s a base understanding (and hopefully trust).

Then you proceed with your pitch – “We’d like you to become a member / change this policy / partner with us. This is why it’s valuable to you and here’s how we do it.”

Remember, most people don’t like asking questions. They want answers neatly packaged.

That’s our challenge: to anticipate potential questions before they are asked and integrate answers into a coherent, but not overly-contrived storyline that connects with the audience in a meaningful and persuasive way.

Education as the foundation for persuasion.

So, before writing copy or developing a script, imagine a conversation with a stranger on the street who knows nothing about your work.

Anticipate, answer, educate. Go forth and persuade.

Thanks for reading.

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