You need a new communications program. But where do you start? The following is a scenario I have experienced many times:
Company: This is really a great company – outstanding products, terrific people. But, we don’t get the recognition we deserve. Where do we start?
Me: Do you have key messages?
Invariably, the company’s answer is “no!” And surprisingly, the size of the company doesn’t matter. Small or large, local or international, many companies don’t have clear key messages.
Key messages should be the start of any communications effort, as they are the foundation to achieving communications goals. Key messages are what you want each audience or target of your communications to think about your company, products, competitive standing, management and employees, as well as whatever else you want to communicate. Key messages become the essence of every communication the organization makes. And surprisingly, developing key messages is usually not a difficult task and can be done rather quickly.
So if key messages are so important, why are they overlooked?
The answer is that it is assumed everyone knows what the company is about. But that’s not always the case. By not having one set of well thought-out and objective written messages, everyone is free to state his or her own messages and even change them in different situations. Target audiences don’t know what to think when they hear different statements about the same company.
So, how can you get started creating key messages?
Often, key messages take the form of bullet points organized by target audience, and rarely run more than a page or two. Sometimes, they take a different form and may be called the corporate narrative, the creed or the positioning statement.
Key messages are also not difficult to find in a corporation. The best sources to turn to when developing them include management speeches, investor materials, sales proposals, and even employee handbooks. The difficulty is not in gathering them, but in making them concise, consistent and complementary.
Once key messages have been developed, they need to be approved and distributed to anyone representing the company. Unified, coherent messages about your company then will be made by everyone.
Soon your company will be understood and recognized the way you want it to be! Stay tuned for my next blog on target audiences.