Key messages are snippets of information that you want to relay to your target audiences. They consist of information you want your target groups to hear and remember. Any messages should reflect the organisation’s vision and mission, and they should be closely connected to goals, objectives and target groups.
According to Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), messages need to be: concise (a message should be from one to three sentences in length); strategic (messages should provide a value proposition); relevant (to the target groups); compelling (messages should stimulate actions); simple (messages should have clear and simple language); memorable (messages should be easy to remember and repeat); real (messages should use active language) and tailored (based on the target groups).
Predefined messages will help you in sharing key information with your target groups and will help you in getting your point across to them. Also, thinking about your key messages prior to engaging in your communication helps with your efficiency. The process of pre-defining messages also allows the whole team to give suggestions and feedback on the messages created (CuttingedgePR, 2020)
The process of shaping your messages is something that your Communication Action Team (Patterson and Radtke, 2009) should implement and comprises several steps. Based on the ideas of Gotter, 2019, Patterson and Radtke, 2009 and Pono, 2016, when crafting your messages, it would be good to follow these general tips and tricks:
One of the methods you can use is called the message triangle (Patterson and Radtke, 2009). This method states that every message consists of three parts:
When you connect all of these three parts of the triangle, you get the message that shapes the issue, the importance of the issue and a call to action.
In the end, it is also important to think about the tone of your messages. You need to define what type of language and tone will best get through to your target groups. Maybe you will have a more relaxed tone and use more emojis. Or you will be more formal and provocative. Maybe you will be inspiring, open, active, youthful, energising, funny… The choice depends on your primary target group and the way they communicate. It is always a good idea to go back to your persona or target group description and to think about what kind of tone and information they would react best to. Don’t be afraid to use a human voice and phrases that would attract your target groups.
Draft messages should also be tested before you begin your communication efforts. (Bick, 1999) You can share messages to all of your team members and solicit feedback. Also, you can contact part of the target group and share your messages with them. When you receive feedback, bring together your Communication Action Team and discuss it. Incorporate the changes and you’re ready to go!
Facilitator and a trainer in the field of youth. He holds MA in Communication Sciences and currently is attending PhD in the same field. For the last ten years, he has been working as consultant for public relations for different NGO’s and has implemented several campaigns related to civic education and sustainable energy. He regularly works as a trainer in the field of youth and school education. Domagoj is member of the trainers’ pool of Croatian National Agency and SALTO SEE and is also working with other NA’s and other institutions such as European Parliament and Council of Europe, as well as private companies and NGO sector.