Case Study

Taming “Diplomat Speak”

Develop Strategic Messaging and Train United Nations Members Steeped in Jargon


This UN agency was having difficulty succinctly describing its mission. Additionally, UN members are steeped in the use of jargon, acronyms and “diplomat speak.” Fearing to say anything offensive, they often say little that is effective. Complicating matters, the United Nations resists U.S. corporate models for message training and prefers that their coaching be conducted in French. This UN agency retained GPC to teach key staff members to teach their senior representatives how to better communicate with the media, in press conferences, with the executive board and key governmental/non-governmental organizations.


As a first step, GPC reviewed how the agency’s many officials each described the organization and distilled all communications into one strategic message, “saving the lives of children and women.”  She then conducted an initial two-day session, one day focusing on presentation skills and the other focused on media skills. For over ten years, Ginny Pulos worked intensively in groups of thirty, with all senior country representatives, senior program and senior operations officials and the media relations and crisis communications groups to transform the way the organization speaks about itself to donors, reporters, nongovernmental organizations and the public.

GPC created media training programs, including tips and techniques for dealing with nerves; thinking on their feet; organizing information; anticipating tough questioning styles; learning the differences in preparing for between print, radio and television interviews; coming quickly to the bottom line, backing up the bottom line with illustrations that come alive for audiences; using positive, genuine emotion, persuasion and body language that is open, credible, and positive even in the glare of worldwide media.  The training also used media clips about UN issues and private videotaped role-play with playback and critique.


This strategic messaging and training transformed the way the organization speaks and thinks about itself and is exceptionally successful in the aftermath of  disasters, wars and crises when many organizations are competing for visibility. After the initial training and results the agency realizes the depth of the task and GPC’s attention to research and preparation for each country in the training and asks GPC to continue to conduct the training themselves.

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