Why Values Matter – Getting People To Support You

Too often I have seen cases being put forward that don’t resonate with their audience.  People invest considerable resources and put forward positions that make sense to them but not to the people they are trying to persuade. More remarkably, people are surprised that they keep loosing, and because they spend a lot of their time with people who usually think the same way as them, must have come around to believing that most people think like they do.

By accident of birth, I learnt very early on, that most people don’t share my values. That’s meant that if I want people to support what I want them to, I need to find points that mirror their values and resonate with them.

Politicians, lawyers and lobbyists need to make sure that their words “click” with the people  they are trying to persuade. This is a key job part of the job. But, all too often, their words sound like “double-dutch” to their target audience.

Working out how people “tick” and reformulating your message so it stands a better chance of being accepted is not alchemy. It can be learnt.

Is there a way to win over people?
Chris Rose shows how this can be done. In his new book, the leading NGO campaign consultant, explains just how to do appeal to many different groups of interests.

Chris’ book “What Makes People Tick: The Three Hidden Worlds of Settlers, Prospectors and Pioneers” is a must read for any campaigner looking to make sure that their message is listened to and adopted.

Do Politicians Need Help?
As public trust in politicians declines they also need to make sure that they communicate their agenda and values so that people can understand what the politician is saying and adopt.

BBC Radio 4’s excellent ‘ Beyond Westminister‘ discussed this question.

You can listen to the programme here.

Can you learn and improve?
How the changing values of the UK public changes how lobbyists, NGOs, and politicians need to change is detailed in IPPR’s Graeme Cooke’s new paper paper ‘Partying like it’s 1995‘.

Speaking to people about what you believe in or how you see the world as a way to change their views is common. It usually just does not work. It does not work  for the simple reason that many people don’t believe what you believe in. Why speaking to someone who does not hold your values about your values should change their mind  is something I have never understood.

Few lobbyists take the next step about speaking to politicians about an issue in a way aligns with the the politician’s values. But, when you do that, something strange happens – politicians support you and you often win.

Politicians Misusing Our Money on Fish Subsidies

Spain’s fishing fleet has long been a creature of the State subsidies. Today, it is the EU taxpayer and not Spain, who pays for much of the Spain’s bloated fishing industry.

During the 1930’s,  fascist governments in Spain built up the fishing industry to provide protein for the people and provide jobs for the poor.  Franco and his followers heavily subsidised the industry.

Today, Franco’s legacy lives on.  The BBC’s Richard Black reports on how since 2000 Spain has got around 5.8 billion euro from the EU to pay for the building and destruction of much of its fleet.

The investigative journalists at the ICIJ  have also documented a seemingly inexhaustible list of cases of how subsidies are given to build, renovate and scrap fishing vessels in Spain. They report on too many cases of fishermen caught, tried and convicted of serious illegal fishing activity still getting subsidies. Perhaps because most of the money the Spanish politicians and officials spent came from other countries weakened their resolve to make sure it was spent legally. But, politicians everywhere are often loose with other peoples money.

You can read  Lotting the Seas here.

Strangely, in the UK press and political comment has been near silent. Perhaps, this is due to Party conference season, or maybe when governments across Europe are picking up the bill for the incompetence of others, the price tag of keeping alive a bankrupt  fishing sector is all too easy a price to pay.

A Real Radical Option for an European Environmental Agenda

I get the feeling that the DG Environment has last its way. From a political and legislative power house of the Commission in the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century, it has backed away.

Until a 7th Environmental Action Programme is adopted, the only clear, although not perhaps coherent record of what Europe’s environmental policy is and will be, lays with the September 20 Resource Efficiency Roadmap.   You can read it here @


  The last page is the most interesting. It provides a clear chart of the scope of Europe’s environmental agenda for the next few years. You can see it below. But, was is absent is a serious discussion about non-implementation of Europe’s environmental laws. Companies playing the game straight are punished by governments who all too often simply ignore that many rules are not being implemented on the ground.  If the rules were enforced we’d see an increase in the health of our planet and our families. Now, that would be a radical agenda.  

How Does Your Audience See You – The Power of Positive and Proactive Communication

An interesting piece in Chemical Watch on how regulators and politicians see the chemical industry. I worked on the survey.


REACH could improve industry’s reputation, says top executive

CEFIC agm debates reputation; survey shows over 80% of Brussels policymakers mistrust chemicals


REACH offers the European chemical industry the opportunity, in the long term, to improve its reputation by allowing it demonstrate that safety data has been generated and supplied to ECHA for all chemicals, according to a leading company executive.

Speaking today at the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC)’s agm in Madrid during a panel discussion on the industry’s reputation – a session opened up to the press for the first time – Ben van Beurden, executive vice president of Shell Chemicals, said the chemicals industry should “intuitively like the fact that REACH is science-based”, but the Regulation is not in the public consciousness and the debate about REACH is currently focused on the perception that the chemicals industry “hides information or acknowledges that it isn’t there”. But he was “reasonably certain” that the industry can change this perception “and say the information is all there” as more and more substances fall under REACH’s registration requirements and dossiers are submitted to the agency. But, Mr van Beurden warned, “we think now that REACH is in place that’s the end of it, but the debate about our reputation is only just starting.”

Echoing the point that battles lie ahead for the chemical industry, fellow panellist Nick Andrews, a senior partner at PR firm Fleishman-Hillard, said the way the industry deals with the issue of nanomaterials “will determine how the industry is viewed by the public for the next 15-20 years”. And Russell Mills, Dow Chemical’s head of energy and climate change policy, said when it came to nanomaterials, “the deeper we went with the public the more worried they got about the amount we don’t know.”

Mr van Beurden presented the results of a recent CEFIC survey of 50 Brussels-based policymakers, including European Commission desk officers and heads of unit, EU permanent representation office staff, MEPs and political group advisers. These show that 84% agree that there is a general perception of mistrust concerning chemicals. Of the MEPs surveyed, 50% said “chemicals” are unsafe and not properly tested.

The survey also produced what Mr van Beurden called the “astonishing insight” that NGO representatives meet with policymakers as often as CEFIC does. “The face time we get is being matched by an NGO community that is less well resourced but clearly better organised than us. They are setting the agenda and we must address this.” To do this, the chemical industry needs to show a different level of leadership when it comes to talking about these issues and make its top executives available to the media. “We need to make our message inspirational. Let us commit – and I will as I speak – to having regular interviews with the media.”

The industry also “needs to be seen as a solutions provider” and move away from talking about its plants and legacy issues towards the products and applications that chemicals help to provide. This may prove easier to do for some products, such as cars, where the chemical industry is helping the production of light-weight materials, than for others, “but we have to start and go on the offensive”, he said.

The good news, said Mr van Beurden, is that the survey shows the industry has been successful in getting its message across to policymakers that chemicals are important and central to innovation, and that CEFIC is providing good representation for the industry.

Comparing the automotive industry’s “cleverness” at offering the public a positive future where all cars could one day be “green”, Mr Andrews, whose company includes CEFIC and some of its sector groups among its clients, said the chemicals industry has failed to offer a similar vision that will reassure the public that whatever its current problems, it is moving in the right direction. He also challenged the chemicals industry to consider the idea that it might be in its interests to sometimes support the banning of a particular substance. “Has the chemical industry ever advocated banging a chemical ever, in its whole history? If not, it’s out of step with society.”