(See Oct. 31 post for part one, which covered identifying target audiences)
Limit Key Messages to Three and Back Up with Proof Points
There’s no magic to three key messages other than it’s usually easier for people to remember items in threes. Coming up with three targeted, memorable messages will help everyone in the organization serve as ambassadors, delivering consistent messages each time they communicate on behalf of the organization. Developing proof points to accompany your messages will help bring your messages to life and make them stand out. This is where you can come up with a “kitchen sink” list of proof points for each message. Examples of proof points may include: awards and recognition, research, statistics, real-life examples, practical applications, etc.
Key messages Should Be One or Two Brief Sentences
Messages that are three or four sentences each will not be memorable or resonate with your target audiences. By writing your messages down, this will help you focus on making sure they’re brief, concise and understandable.
Practice Makes Perfect
Once you develop key messages, it’s critical to vet them. Practice your messages with people outside your company or organization. Deliver your messages to friends, family, neighbors and complete strangers, asking them to repeat back what they heard to ensure you’re accurately communicating your key messages. If your messages don’t easily flow from your tongue and the recipient is having trouble repeating them back, they may need more work.
Train Your Employees, Volunteers
The final step, and one that is often overlooked, is training your spokespeople, employees, volunteers and other ambassadors for your company or organization on how to effectively deliver key messages and proof points when speaking to target audiences. Media train your spokespeople and have them practice delivering key messages in mock interviews. Role playing in groups where employees can team up in twos and practice sharing the messages in different mock settings (cocktail party, business lunch, child’s soccer game) is another effective way to learn and become comfortable with the messages.
Uses for Key Messages
Your key messages and proof points should be incorporated into all internal and external communications efforts including media interviews, news releases, speaking opportunities, marketing materials, proposals, social media outreach, employee communications, website, etc. They should be reviewed and updated, especially your proof points, several times each year to ensure they remain relevant and timely.
GroundFloor Media recently worked with several nonprofit organizations, including Youth Opportunity Foundation, Colorado Youth at Risk and Rose Community Foundation, to help them develop key messages and proof points for their respective organizations.
~ Barb Jones