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Key Messages definition


Head with Digital Zeros and Ones - blue (© Weissblick / Fotolia.com)

Head with Digital Zeros and Ones - blue (© Weissblick / Fotolia.com)

Though you may be speaking to a large group of people, and each person in that group may recall different details, you want to make sure that everyone is able to consistently summarize your message in the span of a sentence or two. These are known as key messages. If these messages are developed and delivered properly, they will serve as an invaluable tool.  Imagine if you were to find yourself sitting next to a very prominent stakeholder in your industry on the subway. She spots your company’s logo on your bag and decides to ask you a few questions. What do you say? If you haven’t developed key messages about your company, you might feel overwhelmed and at a loss for words. However, if you have made the effort to create key messages, you would be able to avoid a lot of stress and stammering.

Why Key Message are Important

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have some control over what people are saying and hearing about your company? When it really matters, you don’t want to find yourself repeating the same old tagline. While that tagline might be really catchy, it won’t necessarily deliver the effect that you hope it will when someone wants specific information.

openPR-Tip: By creating key messages, you will have the ability to gain a certain amount of control over how your company is perceived by the public. The more your key messages are delivered, the more they will serve as the driving force behind what your company does. In essence, these messages will represent your brand.

When you automatically know what it is that you want to say and how you want to say it, not only will you be able to set yourself apart from the crowd, but you’ll be able to do so quickly. Moreover, you will be able to demonstrate your worth to important stakeholders and communicate easier and more effectively with the media.

Key messages offer the following benefits:

  • They enhance your accuracy, your consistency, and your stability in regard to communications.
  • They help you focus your thoughts when you are writing or speaking, ensuring that everyone who is listening understands what your company really stands for.
  • They help to give direction and guidance to the key elements of your company, such as your website, your blog, your landing pages, your newsletters and your social media posts.
  • They help to get everyone in your organization on the same boat and rowing together, eliminating confusion and reducing the chances that something will be said the wrong way.

How to Create Effective Key Messages

Given the fact that key messages serve such important functions, it’s important that you create these messages as effectively as possible. So, how do you go about create effective key messages? Here are some tips from PR pros that will help you devise the most valuable key messages possible.

Keep It Short, Sweet and to the Point

You don’t want your key messages to drag on and on. They are supposed to be short, sweet and to the point. Each statement you create should be no more than three sentences long. They should also be simple, yet detailed and specific. Ensure that your messages offer the information that your audience needs and wants to know, but make sure that it is free of legal jargon, advertising slogans and terminology that can easily confuse people. In other words, use language that the layperson can easily digest, understand and relate to.

Answer Specific Questions

When you are developing key messages, make sure that you ask yourself set of specific questions. These questions should include the following:

  • Is your message easy to understand? Make sure the language you use is clear, concise, professional and gets to the point.
  • Is it believable? You want to make sure that your core message can be backed up by evidence.
  • Is it in a positive light? Key messages should always be positive.
  • It is active? You want to use active language in your key messages.
  • Does it have a purpose? Your key message should properly represent your agenda.

Consider Your Target Audience

Keep your target audience in mind when you are creating the key messages for your company. Find out what it is that your audience wants to and needs to hear from you. Find out why they are interested in your company. Do you have various audiences? If you do, make sure that your messages are custom tailored to each individual audience.

Statistic: Thinking of each of the following situations, have you used mobile instant messages to inform people?* | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Keep Your Values and Mission in Mind

The entire point of key messages is making sure that the public has a thorough understanding of your company’s values and mission. As such, you want to keep these two elements in mind when you are developing your messages. Make sure that your values and mission are the cornerstone of your messages and they will serve your company well.

Choose your Wording Wisely

Determine if there are specific words and/or terms that you would like people to associate with your brand. For example, you might want your targeted audience to link your brand with words like “dependable”, “reliable”, “cutting-edge” or “ground-breaking”.

Make It One-of-a-Kind

You want your key messages to be one-of-a-kind; different from any other company in your industry. After all, one of the main points of these types of messages is to set you apart from the competition. Assess your choice of words in your messages to ensure that they are not similar to your competitors. It would be a wise idea to look at your competitors and assess their key messages and compare them to your own. If you find any repetitive words, phrases or ideas, head back to the drawing board.

Focus on Benefits

Many companies make the mistake of focusing their key messages on the features of the products they offer, not on the benefits that their company provides. Your products are a part of your company, but your company is not your product. Additionally, your products may be easily purchased through other companies. As such, you want to make sure that you highlight what benefits consumers and stakeholders will gain when they choose your company over the competition, which is why highlighting your benefits – not your product features – is so important.

Make it Conversational

You want your key messages to sound as if they are a regular part of everyday conversation; not a slogan or a sales pitch. They should sound natural, real and true. If your messages are salesy, they will sound forced, which will make it difficult for the public to pick up on the value that your company offers.

Analyze and Update

It’s important to keep in mind that your key messages shouldn’t be static. As with everything in life, these messages will change over time, so it’s important to review them on a regular basis to make sure that that they are delivering relevant and important information that reflects your company’s core values and mission.

Make it Memorable

The entire point of a key message is for it to be memorable. You want your targeted audience to be able to easily recall what your message says, as well as repeat it. Make sure that you use words and phrases that are easy to call to mind, and that are relatable. When your message are memorable, people will have a much easier time remembering your company, which is the mission that you are setting out to achieve.

Craft a Compelling Take-Away

Key messages should offer your targeted audience a definite take-away; something that they actually walk away with after hearing your message. In order to do that, you want to make your message as compelling as possible. When its compelling, people will be more inclined to relate to the message, as it will appeal to their interests and their needs.

Ask for Insight

Sometimes, it’s helpful to have more than one person crafting a key message for your company. The more input you have, the more effective your message will be. It’s a wise idea to brainstorm potential messages with a group of prominent individuals, such as key stakeholders, pertinent employees, as well as your marketing and PR team. Draw out the freshest, most relatable ideas and develop messages that use clear and concise wording to deliver key messages that are straightforward and to the point.

When you are developing your key messages, make sure that they are relevant, consistent and positive. If you can successful check off all of these things, you can be assured that you will capture the attention of your audience and that they will recall your business.

The Bottom Line

Key messages are the foundation of your public relations plan. They help to unite all of your PR efforts, support your company, and offer an invaluable metric when you are measuring and tracking the success of your PR campaign. Keep these steps in mind and you will be able to develop effective key messages that will help your audience remember your brand and encourage them to take the actions that you desire.


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