I have been involved in a lot of messaging projects lately. Be it drafting key messages to help a client with issues management or building general messaging for a client from the ground up, it’s been a primary focus for many of my clients over the past few months. Which got me thinking about messaging – and why it matters in the first place.
We know we need messaging – it’s a basic tenet of PR. But does it really matter? Can’t we just wing it? Not advisable. Winging it can lead us down all sorts of tricky rabbit holes. So, here is a friendly reminder of some of the reasons that having solid messaging in place is of the utmost importance.
• Allow you to concisely articulate your company’s benefits
• Keep you focused
• Provide consistent positioning throughout all communications efforts
• Help you tailor your comments to specific audiences during media interviews
• Help you define not only who you are, but who you aren’t
• Highlight differentiation without bashing the competition or giving them a voice
• Allow you to measure success of communications efforts
I actually think messaging may be one of my favorite PR projects. To help a client nail down its story in a clear and concise way is a fun challenge. Sometimes it’s daunting at the outset, but once you conduct the interviews needed, cull through the loads of information gathered, and really hone in on those “nuggets” that define and differentiate your client, it’s very satisfying. And when you can take a crisis situation and distill it down to the key points you need to address, the crisis becomes less overwhelming and somehow more manageable.
Of course, messaging is never really finished – your company’s messages are always evolving and need regular updating and revisiting. At GroundFloor Media, we’re practicing what we preach and are revisiting our own key messages. In fact, we conducted a message development session for ourselves just last week. We all gathered in the conference room and went through the same steps that we take with clients – and came up with some great results.
That process is very reassuring because those key messages can come in handy. Two great case study examples from PRWeek include:
• Clear identification emerges as a focal point of messaging (Dec. 1, 2009)
• Consistent message helps P&G in diaper rash crisis (June 18, 2010)
When was the last time you took a look at your key messages? It may be time for a refresh. Or, if your answer is “never,” it’s definitely time to put that foundation in place.