Setting-your-author-lenseThanks to WWW team member, media trainer Bren McClain for this post. Bren works with authors by preparing them for public speaking at conferences, book events, and media appearances, allowing each to prepare their perfect author message!

Every summer about this time, I head to Kentucky to do some of my favorite work, teaching incoming school superintendents how to become Communications Leaders. I define such a person as someone who knows who his/her audience is – and has a definite message to convey.

That got me to thinking about writers. How this relates to us.

Let’s talk about superintendents first. Who is their audience? It’s their community, the mama’s and daddy’s and business folks and civic leaders.

These are the people whom superintendents are addressing when they talk through the media, when they talk at school board meetings, when they send out a newsletter, etc. (There’s another critical audience, and that’s their internal audience – teachers and staff. But we’re dealing with external today.)

One of the first things I’ll do next week in Kentucky is ask each one, “What do you want your community to believe about how their kids are being educated?”

This message should drive both an action and a feeling. To use an analogy here: This is like setting a lens through which their communities will hear all of the information throughout the year. I’m talking about test scores and changes in the school lunch program and budget adjustments.

Here are some really cool examples I’ve collected over the years. And, by the way, each drives support and trust.

  • “Educating our kids must be our ONLY priority.”
  • “You can’t put a price tag on our children’s/community’s future.”
  • “Our children’s future is this community’s future.”
  • “We’re the hope of the children of X county.”
  • “When our kids/schools succeed, our county/community succeeds.”
  • “We’re starting to catch a glimpse of what is possible.”

Notice what all of these messages have in common? Kids – a school district’s bottom line “constituency.”

Now, what about us writers? What if we take the steering wheel and think and talk like Communications Leaders. Let me ask you:

  • Who is your main audience?
  • What action and what feeling do you need to drive?
  • What, then, is your ONE message that would drive both this action and feeling?

Notice how deliberate this mode of communication is, this setting of the lens. Too often, we just show up and start talking. I’m hoping you’ll begin thinking it through when talking about your book and about yourself.

What do you want your audience to believe about your book? About you?

Then tell them that.

B.-McClain-pic1-222x222Bren McClain founded and is president of McClain Communications, Inc., established in 1990 as a communications consulting firm, specializing in Message Development and Delivery. She has worked with Algonquin and Workman authors for “Today Show” and “Good Morning America” appearances, as well as preparing authors prior to book tour launches. Besides her experience in media training authors and journalists, Bren is also is an award-winning fiction writer. @BrenMcClain