Updated: Apr 5
Slay 'em with strategic, punchy, soundbite-friendly messages that encapsulate your business and motivate others to action.
Key messages help to convey — as simply and effectively as possible — important points about your product, service or issue during media interviews or with your target audiences.
Professionals in my field often take days — even weeks — to strategize, develop and hone key messages. This attests to the power of such messages: use the wrong one or set your messages in the wrong context, and what you are trying to say could be misconstrued, completely misunderstood, or even ruin your organization’s reputation.
All the more reason to use a marketing-communications expert to help you draft your key messages! However, if you have no choice but to develop them yourself, you should at the very least consider the following:
1. Limit your key messages
Remember, these are supposed to be only the most important messages. Therefore, your key messages should be limited — no more than five or six.
Having fewer key messages helps avoid overwhelming your audience. Plus, it enables you to have more control regarding what gets heard and shared.
2. Balance what you want to communicate with what people need to know.
Don’t waste your few key messages communicating something that will not resonate with your audience(s). Absolutely, you should consider what information you want to share with others. But it's also critical to determine what an "outsider" (your target audience) needs to know.
Meanwhile, refrain from using too much (if any) internal-speak within your key messages. Your overall goal should be clarity and ensuring everyone will understand what you are trying to say.
3. Explain who is doing what, and for what reason.
Key messages should help explain the "why" — providing a solid reason behind your purpose and rationale.
Therefore, be sure that cumulatively, your messages explain who is doing what, and the reason(s) behind it.
4. Use statistics, but sparingly.
If you have one or two amazing statistics to back up what you're saying, add them into your key messages.
Including key statistics can bolster key messages and help make them more persuasive; just be sure to pick the right ones and use them sparingly. You don't want to overburden people with numbers — save the rest for your secondary messages (more on that later).
5. Key messages should never over-explain.
Your key messages should be easy to understand and remember. Therefore, aim to ensure they're as simple and straightforward as possible.
Avoid explaining too much; key messages should only answer key questions without raising more questions or inviting more complex conversations. (However, if you're concerned about hard questions, keep reading on about secondary messages.)
6. One set of messages does not necessarily fit all.
If you have multiple audiences (e.g., current customers vs. prospects vs. media), you should consider developing key messages for each of them.
However, tailor each message only slightly to meet specific information needs, while staying true to the overall messages you need to communicate. Consistency is still key, regardless of who these messages are for.
7. Aim for soundbites.
Crafting key messages that catch the media's attention is a key skill for anyone wanting to get their message out there. So make sure yours are snappy, concise, and packed with powerful language. This will increase the likelihood they don't get squeezed out in limited media space or time.
By using interesting and attention-grabbing verbiage to complement any reporter's story, you can also make your point(s) stand out from the noise.
8. Use empathy.
Especially if you are communicating difficult news, compassion and sensitivity should be demonstrated — not just in the tone you use, but also in your wording.
Always be mindful of the needs of your audience. Understanding their point of view can help you better tailor your key messages in a way that increases their ability to absorb and understand what you are trying to say. Furthermore, being persuasive in a friendly, empathetic tone helps create trust between yourself and your audience.
9. Consider timeliness and relevance.
Crafting key messages that are timely is a critical part of effective messaging. However, it's important to also remember your key messages can become outdated very quickly.
The last thing you want is to go out to the public with outdated, irrelevant messages. If you haven't updated your key messages recently, take a look at them to ensure they still accurately reflect the current reality. They may require a refresh.
10. Create secondary messages for follow-up questions.
As mentioned above, key messages are supposed to be high-level without too much explanation. However, you should also anticipate and prepare for people to ask for more information.
That's where having secondary messages comes in. These messages address any lingering questions or doubts people may have about your key messages. Having secondary messages handy, you can be fully prepared to provide any supporting information that may come up during conversations about your key points — leading to meaningful and productive dialogue.
Hire a content strategist to develop your key messages
It may seem crazy, but developing even just a few short key messages can take up a great deal of time and effort.
To help facilitate the process, consider investing in a communications or content marketing expert — someone who can condense a great deal of information into strategically compelling, compact, written statements that will resonate with your desired audiences.
Need help getting the ball rolling on your key messages? I can take you through the entire process from brainstorming ideas to finalizing the perfect wording for promoting your business, product, service, or idea. Contact me today or book your FREE 30-minute consultation.