When you get out and share your story, you are going to create some weather. You are going to get a storm. I'm going to hand you an umbrella and some boots - and you're going to get through the storm.
When you get out and share your story, you are going to create some weather. You are going to get a storm. I'm going to hand you an umbrella and some boots and you're going to get through the storm.
The greatest message ever crafted means nothing if it isn’t heard by the people who need to hear it the most. This episode covers how your message in the right hands makes all the difference.
Takeaways and Teachable Moments
KNOW THAT THE OPPOSITION IS WAITING TO FIGHT.
DON’T BE SURPRISED WHEN THEY DO FIGHT.
NO MATTER HOW GOOD THE MESSAGING IS, UNLESS YOU TAKE ACTION, NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN.
REALLY CRAFT YOUR MESSAGE AND PUT IT INTO A QUALITY OBJECT. DITCH THE CHEAP POLITICAL FLYER.
FOLLOW UP PRINTED MATERIAL WITH PERSONAL CALLS.
GET THE MESSAGE OUT TO INDIVIDUALS SO THEY CAN GET IT OUT TO OTHERS.
John Davies isn’t afraid of a fight, and his secret weapon is knowing that he was always in a fight, even before the first salvo was launched. Every step up to this point has been about getting ready to meet your opponent’s message. This episode encourages you to be prepared for the storm. John wants you to be more prepared than the opposition. He gives you the ability to put your message out with all the confidence in knowing that you will meet and overcome the opposition.
The veteran professional will know that no win comes without conflict and that the best way to win is to be “right” more often than your opposition. This means that you must have built your campaign with a solid, truthful foundation and that you have a solid base of integrity when the storm starts.
Overcoming the Opposition: Getting the Message Out
Mark Sylvester: John Davies has a method. An approach he systematically developed over a career spanning three decades. He's proven it to be invaluable for dozens of industries and thousands of projects facing public acceptance. Up until now, the method has only been available to his select client list. John is unpacking his insight and wealth of knowledge to overcome opposition and earn public support for the first time right here.
Throughout these episodes, we'll take a deep dive, step by step, with John into his strategies to overcome opposition and create support. Nothing is free in this world, but good ideas are priceless. This show could be just the thing you've been looking for. I'm Mark Sylvester. Now, let's get started and talk with John.
Welcome back to the show. John, when we last talked, we were going through listening to figure out what people thought, and remember to listen and don't tell them your agenda. Then, it was take those findings and get to the DOS, get to the messages, get to the core messages. Take and throw out all the extraneous words, get us down to 25 words and just be really economic, and you had some really great lessons for that. But now you say that the third step is get the message out. That seems obvious, John.
John Davies: Well, yeah, you would think so. Fewer than most, we're really focused on getting things out for our clients. I mean, quite frankly, a lot of people in our side of the industry feel that coming up with ideas and helping people think about things is enough. I mean, we have got to get out and share your story. There's an old ad from some big marketing advertising group for magazines. I can't remember what it was. It might have been either Look or Life. It lasted longer than the magazines did, and was a guy standing there with his arms folded and he said, "Marketing without advertising is like winking at a pretty girl in the dark."
I remember reading it and going, "Well, that's a great ad. That makes a lot of sense." It's like you know what you stand for. We've listened; we know what the public wants, we know what they want, what their care about. We know what their dreams are, what their fears are unrelated to you and related to you, and we've created a message. We've even thought about the graphics and we have that feel, "Well, that's all great. Now, we’ve got to get it out." To get something out you got to take action.
Mark Sylvester: Why are they afraid to get the message out?
John Davies: Well, because when you get out and share your story, you are going to create some weather. You're going to get some weather; you are going to get a storm, I'm going to hand you an umbrella and some boots and you're going to get through the storm. The deal is if you create some weather by reaching out and telling people the good story, what's going to happen when there is immediate release of the stories or the anti-groups start coming in the community and social media and telling the story? There's going to be a horrible outpouring and the storm's never going to be stopped. Many times, we're already in the storm when we come in.
There's a fear of really getting out and doing it. It's a fear of engaging with the public. I think I might have a way to help the listener.
Mark Sylvester: I think I might have a way to help the listener. Isn't this when you start to acknowledge?
John Davies: Well, exactly, and that's it.
Mark Sylvester: That's the hard part. I mean, the premise of this whole show is that there is a different way to think about how you overcome opposition.
John Davies: Right.
Mark Sylvester: It's why you've been so successful, and it starts with the letter: A, which is acknowledge and everything follows after that. It feels like the findings and the asking the questions gets you to the point where we can say, "Yes community."
John Davies: The other is just to be really clear when we go. We'll go through quickly in this section of how we do the grassroots. I could tell you every little step, or I could do a 12-part series: the steps of grassroots. But, we'll get into a little bit how we do it, how we start and who we go to first. The deal is, we got this great story that brings people to our side. We have empathy for them, we're persuasive to them, we're honest, we're transparent. Even with that story, It doesn't do us any good until we get it out and we start sharing. We can't share it at the table at the county fair. We're going to share it by going where people are. You know where they are? They're in their homes, they're on their computers, they're on the radio, they're in the newspaper.
Mark Sylvester: And, they're on Facebook.
John Davies: Yeah, they're on Facebook and we'll talk about that as one of the steps, but the deal is we want to go to them, and share the story where they are. I keep thinking that a couple of years ago, I was counseling this young man at a college where one of my children went. He's just a really bright guy and I was asked to mentor him. The irony is that he was totally the opposite of my son. He was really worried that they asked me to mentor someone who's totally the opposite.
I go in the building where he is on the campus and there's a little sign on the door saying, "Hey, electrical work being done today." It could be an intermittent outage of Wi-Fi and electricity. I don't care, whatever, so I go in. We sit down, he sits down, we start talking and he's an interesting kid. I'm trying to get a grasp of their worldview, totally different than what I've dealt with as a 19 and 20 year old. We talk and we're about 10 to 15 minutes into our conversation and the room goes dark. I go, "Power's out." I knew about that. There's a little light under the door, a little light around the edges. No windows, we're in one of those interior rooms. We talked for a while and we talked for 10 minutes, 15 minutes and power doesn't come back on.
It becomes a little awkward, so I'm like, "Well, let's go see what's happening." I stand up, I go over, I open the door and the lights come on." I go, "Power came back on," so I come and sit down. We talk for another 10 or 15 minutes and, "Bang," power goes out again. I go, "Wow, they're really having intermittent power stuff." We sit there and we talk for a while again and it's not coming on again. We go a little longer, I don't know, maybe 20 minutes. I go, "Let's go someplace else. Let's go with the coffee shop," so we stand up, go to the door. Right before I get to the door, "Boom," the lights come on again, I go, "Power's back on." He's goes, "No, there's a motion detector on the door that's triggered."
For me, no matter what the intents are in all the good messaging and all the good stuff you're going to do, unless you take action, nothing's going to happen. You're going to be sitting there in the dark and nothing's going to happen, so we need to trigger to the motion detector. Take action, be willing to get out there and have a conversation. By the way, when you do you're going to get into some arguments and that's okay. People are going to come at you; they're coming at you, anyway, you might as well start it now.
Mark Sylvester: Is this where I'm reminded of the first sale is to yourself and the team. Are there messages you do to inoculate the team?
John Davies: Well, yeah. There's two things that always drives everyone crazy. One is that when we get out there some people don't like it. They get really upset, "Oh my Gosh." Then, the other is that they don't like what we're saying that they could say it better. My deal is, "Well, let's go talk to them," so we make sure we talk to them because they may have something that we're missing and that we need to be able to do it, and then what do we do and how do we do it?
I mean, folks listening from working on projects that are veterans know that the landowners want you to do something, and the landowners are really happy if you put up lawn signs. Just put up lawn signs, they're so happy. A billboard, I mean, will make them ecstatic. A newspaper ad will make them really happy and a radio spot will make them happy. Well, none of that does you any good unless you do the steps that we think you need to do to start, so the foundation of any program of sharing the story; getting your word out is grassroots because that's creating relationships and talking to people where they live.
We're going to do grassroots so think about that as a bottom plank; the brick or the foundation that holds it together. On top of that we'll build social, we'll build digital and we'll build traditional medium. I'm going to unpack each one of them really quickly because I could spend a day at each of them.
On the grassroots. For us, grassroots is first, by getting a piece of mail into someone's mailbox. We're not talking political mail, where it's a simple flyer of one page that is just awful and sending five of them to everyone. That just drives people crazy.
Mark Sylvester: Don't do that.
John Davies: Please, don't do that because what that does, those are made to go from the mailbox to the trash can. Can you read a headline, look at something and remember the candidate's name and drop it in the trash before you give up. Ours is in an envelope, its multiple pages, it's full color, it's a full story, it's a piece that tells you that we're going to build this wind farm for whatever: a quarter billion, half billion dollars, and we, actually, know how to communicate as well. We're going to respect the industry we're in and what we're doing. It comes, well done and we talked about the messaging.
It also comes with a personalized letter: Dear Mark, this letter is to share with you what we're doing with our wind farm in your community, and why we're doing it, how we're doing it, where it's going to be, what we think the benefits are, what we think the impacts are that we feel we're overcoming. We hope you take a moment to read this letter. Read through the fact booklet that we've enclosed. Notice we call it a fact booklet not a brochure, and fill out the card that we've enclosed. One of my associates is going to give you a call and see if you have any questions. We really appreciate the time that it takes to do this and we really appreciate you.
Mark Sylvester: I mean, I think of digital marketing and emails, and so this is old school.
John Davies: Yeah. Who's in your mailbox these days? How much mail do you get?
Mark Sylvester: Hardly, anything.
John Davies: Yeah, so here we are in a nice envelope: a label, not a label with a company's name on it, not a computer generated dot matrix label that you get in most direct mail things like magazines. There's a letter and the letter is addressed to you not a faceless lump: Dear local resident.
Mark Sylvester: Click occupant, here, resident, yes.
John Davies: What I call that is Dear faceless lumb, we care so little who you are personally that we're unwilling to find out who you are. Therefore, we're going to address you as “occupant”. Well, wouldn’t that be great? You go to a restaurant; you're occupant 32 in line for the table today so we'll call you occupant 32.
Mark Sylvester: Occupant party of five.
John Davies: Occupant part of five, and so we address them by their name. We send it in the mail in a really nice package. Within 72 hours we call them. We say, "Hey Mark."
Mark Sylvester: You call every one of them?
John Davies: We call every one of them. "Hey Mark, John asked me to give you a call. He sent you the package about the wind farm that is being proposed and really want to know your opinion. What's going on? Did you get it in the mail? It was in a big, grey envelope that came in your mailbox probably the last couple of days." "Oh you did, great." "Did you have a chance to read it?" You have it. "Hey, why don't you read it, we'll give you a call tomorrow night. Is this a good time to talk?" "Yeah." "Well, we'll call you tomorrow night, we'll talk to you." "Is that good?" "Yeah," "Great." Or, "Yeah, I did read it." "Well, what did you think? Do you have any questions?" "No, I think it's a great idea. I really like it." "Could we count on you to be a supporter of this because we're going to need some help? There are some people that don't like this and you seem to like it." "No, I really like it." "Well, can we put you down as a supporter?" "Yeah."
Mark Sylvester: Boom.
John Davies: Boom. Well, when we do that, what happens next?
Mark Sylvester: Well, I'm going to save that for another show.
John Davies: Really?
Mark Sylvester: I do.
John Davies: Okay. The next thing we do is we call, and if we're not able to get them on the phone because not everyone's easy to get to, though it is surprising the number we do get to, we go knock on their door. We have a program on our canvasers phone. I know what door they've been to because I can tell on the computer program.
Mark Sylvester: When you did the research, it was 25 one-hour conversations. Now, I'm thinking of a small community in the midwest where there is a potential wind farm in place. What are my numbers like now?
John Davies: numbers like 5,000, 10,000, or even 20,000 depending where you are.
Mark Sylvester: 20,000 phone calls, John?
John Davies: Yeah. These are smaller. I mean, we have industries where we were making 200,000, 300,000. We did a project that we made a million phone calls. It just means there's resources. The quality of the phone calls in smaller communities has to be better and about a wind farm will be better. Those calls we're using feel like the person who signed the letter, which is the highest level person that we can get that's involved, his assistant is calling. It doesn't feel like a phone bank, so it sounds like their assistant's calling. If we can't get them we knock on their door, and when we knock on the door we have the piece again and we say, "Hey, did you get this? Just checking in." They're like, "Well, yeah." We go through the same thing: we have a conversation at their door.
Mark Sylvester: I think that says you care.
John Davies: Right. The deal is we just want to know what you think, and then we want to have a meeting. Small group meetings.mSo, we invite these people.
Mark Sylvester: This is about the grassroots.
John Davies: This is the whole grassroots deal. The grassroots is the mail, the phone, the door and the small group meetings. We get them at the door, we have a conversation. That's pretty solid, right? What happens when we do that? People will tell us things that they don’t like about wind farms, otherwise, they love it. One of the things … Number one, probably are a fallacy and we can deal with it by saying, "This is how we don't do that."
Mark Sylvester: You've probably done the research, you've done the messaging.
John Davies: Yeah. We've already heard it, now, we got to share it with them again and we can deal with it, or sometimes it's something that's like, "Wow, that's a really good idea."
Mark Sylvester: I appreciate this approach but I'm also thinking that our listener might be thinking, "No, let's just do Facebook, Twitter and let's do social."
John Davies: We have a sister company to Davies. It is a consumer lifestyle PR firm. What we do on social, with that firm versus what we can do in wind farm's public affairs, are totally different because people that … We can go into a community and the opponents will have a social media presence; they'll have 400, 500, 600 people. We can double, triple, quadruple their followers, but people who follow say thumbs up; they didn't say thumb up, feet up. I'm walking, I'm coming to help you, I'm going to show up. They're like, "Yeah, I'm good with this."
Mark Sylvester: You had said to me, though, in an earlier conversation that social was really just for theater.
John Davies: It's more theater in this realm than anything because getting people to show up at a hearing, to write a letter or do something, you got 1 out of 1,000, 3 out of 1,000. When you do grassroots, you've talked to someone; they've said to you, "I'm with you." We follow that up immediately with a letter we call the commitment letter. In a science of persuasion there's a thing called consistency. Consistency is when I say I'm going to do something and you acknowledge that I'm going to do it and appreciate me for doing it, I will do it. Otherwise, what do we call people who don't do what they say they're going to do?
Mark Sylvester: I'll say flaky.
John Davies: Flaky. I talk to a program of the National Foundation of Women Legislators and I said, "What do we call people that don't do what they say they're doing to do?" The common comment was, "My husband." But the deal is that we don't like that. That's really troubling in a relationship, and so when we do this and we do it nicely and then we ask them to do something, we get 1, 2, 3 out of 10 that will step up. They'll make a phone call, they'll send an email. We get 1 out of 10 will show up at a public hearing because we haven't done … "Hi, how are you? We don't know who you are but do you support wind?" "Yes, I support wind." "Will you come to our hearing tomorrow night?" "Hell, no." Or, "Yes, I will," hang up. "No way I'm going."
We build a relationship, and what do you think those people do after they've said yes to us? We've said, "Thank you for that." We're going to talk about how we take them from being a supporter into being an advocate in a little bit. The idea is now we want to do social media but we have to be careful. To do social media, you have to want to maintain social media.
Mark Sylvester: That's a commitment, isn't it?
John Davies: It's a huge commitment, especially in the controversial issues, what happens? Who gets into social media and want to fight with you?
Mark Sylvester: Trolls.
John Davies: Right, and so the opponents are taught to fight on social media, and so you've got a choice to make. Do you debate with them? Sometimes your supporters will help you and debate with them. That, really, depends on the type of community and type of supporters and how ugly the other people are. Or do you just, if someone comes on as ugly, do you ban them? You have the right to do that.
Mark Sylvester: You spend all day just blocking people.
John Davies: Well, yeah. We do it; we put someone on our team. Yeah, we'll get up to 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 in these small rural communities. The opponents have 500, 600 and can't grow, and so they get frustrated, they come over and just want to beat our people up, and so we just ban them and ban them. We'll leave one person one every once in awhile, so we can have a debate with them and show that they have no idea of what they're talking about.
Does it yield the right results? I don't think so. Facebook helps us, because all of it helps us engage conversations, but Facebook is probably the most effective for us. If you think about Instagram, you post pictures. Surely, we're not going to get a lot from Snapchat. I mean, here's our picture today and my story for today, that's not going to help our cause. Now, Twitter, even before Twitter has become such a political tool. Twitter is really where the media will track, so you're sitting at a public hearing or a meeting of some type and you start Tweeting out what really is happening. You can Tweet when someone's making a statement against you that's not factual. You don't have to say that they're wrong, you just Tweet back or you Tweet that this statement was just made, here's some interesting information to look at and you give them data because the media will use it and put it in their story and you will color the media story.
Mark Sylvester: That is, again, there is an investment and an intentional knowing; I need to have that press in there.
John Davies: That investment is well worth it. When you look at it, Do we have the people? Are we going to maintain it? and do we need to do it? And so we'll do it. I divide social and digital. A lot of people would put social under digital. Digital, for me, is a whole different deal. It's a website; you got to have a great project website, and part of the project website can just be we take the fact booklet and we turn it into a very active simple multimedia that can become a QuickTime movie with a voice over. We're not spending a pile of money doing video. We have an amazing 10 to 15 minute presentation, which we can then break into 25 of them and put it in our Facebook, but we have the presentation on the project. We address every issue and we address it proactively.
Flicker. I mean, how do we overcome the flicker effect in homes?
Mark Sylvester: You're not talking about the photo sharing site.
John Davies: No. How do we deal with the shadow flicker? We show how the computer aided psyche placement works and we show it in a presentation where you can unpack it with motion. That becomes its own little thing. How have we dealt with noise? What are the ways we inoculate for those things. We also show the history of why farms in the community have dropped? What's the city budget looks like? What is the school district dealing with? Than we can answer these fears, we can deal with the dream. Some communities really care about the environment. Those who care, we talk about the environmental issues really strongly, so we're able to do that on the web. We also ask for feedback on the web. Here's a form, fill it out and tell us what you think.
Mark Sylvester: Lots of calls-to-action on that.
John Davies: Yeah, but we don't get a lot but people go there, so we're getting information out. We also do email. We only email people who have signed up as supporters. We don't spam. I mean, what's the worst thing you can do in a project like this is spam people. I mean, I get an email and you're telling me how great your wind farm is, you're in my email box and I didn't ask you.
Mark Sylvester: You're out of integrity.
John Davies: You're totally out of integrity. Then, the other thing we do, digital, and I call it digital because it's only available because of digital in the internet, is Tell-at-Town halls, so Tell-at-Town halls, we invite everyone in the community, we get ads out there and we invite people to join us for a Tell-at-Town hall. That means we can have 1,000, or 2,000. We have many people that just want to call in. You sign up; you say you're going to do it. We get our supporters to invite their friends. About five minutes before it's going to start we call you. We say, "Tell-a-Town hall is about to begin. Join us."
We can do a screen sharing program that you can look at slides, if you want, and we invite people in. We have a moderator to deal with the questions, and we're able to screen the crazies. I don't mind bad questions, I just don't want people yelling at me because then people hang up. People don't want an ugly night.
We have this amazing conversation.
Mark Sylvester: Like watching mom and dad fight.
John Davies: Yeah, exactly. As people get on, just a function of it, we get it done. Then, last is traditional.
Mark Sylvester: Give me an example.
John Davies: Traditional: a newspaper.
Mark Sylvester: Newspapers, I remember them.
John Davies: Yeah, and so in small towns newspapers are still there. They're struggling, so what happens when go on a newspaper? Number one, the landowners are happy because they read the newspaper. Who else reads the newspaper?
Mark Sylvester: I think grandma and grandpa.
John Davies: Yeah, who else?
Mark Sylvester: The farmer is looking for weather?
John Davies: You'll get to weather on the phone. Yeah, I have the answer but think about who reads the newspaper? The guy who owns the newspaper. He reads his newspaper and we're putting in the information. We're teaching him how to write an editorial in favor of us. We're also giving money to a failing industry, but who else reads the newspaper? Someone who's going to have their name in the newspaper. Who is likely to be thinking their name's going to be in the newspapers either in a letter to the editor on the good or positive, or a report. Someone who's elected: a decision maker.
Mark Sylvester: I'm thinking politicians.
John Davies: Yeah, politicians. Decision makers have their name in the paper, so they always read the paper and they're thinking about the paper, so who are we talking to? We're talking directly to the guy who writes the editorial and the guy who reads the editorial.
Mark Sylvester: It feels like the foundation that starts with grassroots, goes through social and has a strong digital presence and traditionally addresses all the various stakeholders.
John Davies: But you have to figure out who you're going at, so which stakeholder.
Mark Sylvester: Right.
John Davies: The newspaper ad can get a little more detail and address details more than just a fact booklet. The other is I don't want to lose is radio. Radio, in rural America, is an amazing tool. This also makes the landowners happy because I have this amazing video that was sent to me from a farmer and landowner who is listening to a radio of an opposition spot. This guy is out on this tractor and he's ploughing through a field and he records it, he used his phone. What I see on the little video is.
Mark Sylvester: He is in his combine.
John Davies: In combine driving through the field and all this stuff going by in the side of the tractor as I'm listening to it. It's truly one of the great videos I've ever gotten from anyone to tell me a story, but that's what they're doing. He's listening to the radio and he's hearing the opposition. Do you think he'd like to hear ours?
Mark Sylvester: He was engaged as well and he was doing something.
John Davies: Yeah, he's sending it to us. He's helping us, so traditional media, we've never really done and win TV spots because the markets are too big. Too much slop over to other communities. You think about it, we got a base of people who are with us. They say we support you. We're trying to get into a relationship with them, and that's what we want to talk about next: how you do that.
Then, we're on social. We bump into them; we get them to join us. We're advertising sponsored content to get more people to join us in social, and so if a decision makers looks and the opponents have 500 and we have 1,500, that says something to them. Then, we go and we have a great digital presence. We're giving them a lot of links to good information, if they want it. We're showing our work, and then we're out in the newspaper and we're talking to the decision makers and supporting the media that have a big mega-vote.
Mark Sylvester: I would guess, as our listener is thinking about this, because they know now that we give them something to do at the end of this. Maybe what they do is, they take a piece of paper and they write across the top grassroots, social, digital and traditional and give themselves a scorecard.
John Davies: How about if we take a piece of paper, 8.5' by 11', tip it on its side, and take the entire bottom half. Draw a line across to the middle in the entire bottom half, right? In the top corner of one side write “grassroots”. Then, you list all the grassroots things you're doing and you can do, and share what we're talking about. The top one-third above the grassroots, write “social”. What can we do? Then, write next to it. The next one-third at the top, write “digital”. What can I do? A website, what else can I do? Then, the last corner sitting there do “traditional”. Whether that's the radio, or the TV, maybe the newspaper. What can I do in this market?
Mark Sylvester: John, thank you so much. I love these lessons, especially these longer ones where we're getting to unpack. Next up is cultivate, which is about building community and building relationships. I look forward to that conservation, John. Thanks so much.
Mark Sylvester: Thank you.
John Davies: Thank you for listening. It's now your opportunity and responsibility to use the method today. You've completed one segment toward understanding the Davies Method. We look forward to you subscribing. Join us as we uncover and explain the nuances of John's distinctive approach. For more episodes, visit the Daviesmethod.com. I'm Mark Sylvester, recording at the Pull String Press Studios in Santa Barbara, California.