Messaging Part 2: Six Approaches To Messaging to Ensure Anonymity
In Part 1, I built a case for the potential of well crafted Key Message to invigorate your customers and to emblazon your Key Message on reporters’ minds. Tapping the Key Message for all its benefit requires a change in the traditional method of communications planning – to reap tons of mindshare develop your Key Message first and make your communications plan about driving that message into the heads of your audiences.
To be fair, there are competing methods that you should be aware of. Even those who neglect messaging in their plans, will likely acknowledge that the story they deliver is important. They handle it in another way. Here are the most common alternatives used by companies you’ve never heard of and likely never will:
- We don’t need formal messages. Joe knows what to say. Be honest, does Joe really? In my experience, Joe is an excellent speaker and knows his stuff, but he’ll be much more effective telling an up-to-date story that’s honed from every angle. And how about everyone else? Joe may be your primary spokesperson, others communicate with customers, press, vendors, wives, colleagues at other companies, trade show attendees, Face Book friends. When solid messaging underpins these conversations, a the story you want to tell emerges from everywhere, not just from Joe.
- We’re too small to worry about messaging. Our customers know us anyway. Well thought out messaging is important to businesses of all sizes. Both your current and potential customers want confidence that you understand their needs. Particularly for a small business, message development can be a brainstorm – based on data – that leads to new ideas.
- The product features are our message. But which differentiate you? Which solve customers’ biggest problems? Which are new? Which are the coolest? Which appeal to particular categories of customers. Not surprisingly, the plan that follows is unfocussed and out of kilter. Results are no better than your competition.
- Each department provides its messages to ensure we don’t miss anyone’s priorities. Often this leads to communications plans with 10, 20 or even more messages, including those cut and pasted from the annual report. Rules to live by: Too many messages is no message. You can never have too few messages.
- No use spending a lot of time on messages, Bob always rewrites them when he reviews the final plan. This happens. The final check-off is always assigned to busiest person in the organization. Knowing he has the last look, does little more than glance at the drafts. Actually, this is OK because he rewrites the rest of the plan as well. Office humor aside, getting your story down right is critical. Do it right and attach a brief rationale for Joe.
- We thought up this real cool PR event, but we need to change the message to make it work. No. It’s the Key Message we’re trying to instill for crying out loud. Messaging drives tactics, never the other way around. Be firm and confident knowing this creative team that came up this idea will come up with its equal that’s on message. They will; trust me.
These are all drawn from real businesses and other organizations, hopefully your competitors. I’ve withheld their names because, quite frankly, I don’t remember them. Next I’ll show you how to construct a Key Message. From then on, I’m sure I’ll never forget your organizations’ names.