Five traits of good messaging

Good messaging is essential to the success of any public relations program because it serves as the foundation for everything else. Messaging is used in media interviews, website content, news releases and media pitches.

To illustrate, consider the following message used throughout a newspaper interview: “We know how to rock it.” While fine for a guitar manufacturer, this message was conveyed by a marketing firm, and was a lost opportunity to talk about what really makes the company different.

In the hundreds of messaging roadmaps we’ve created for companies, we’ve found five traits that all good messaging share:

  1. Perspective. Messaging is very difficult to do for your own company because it lacks the perspective necessary to get to the essence of what’s important about your company. It also is difficult to carve out the time to do the legwork needed to develop good messaging. What’s more, strong personalities can quickly sidetrack the process.
  2. Free of jargon. We once worked for a company that used so much jargon we actually held a Jargon Jeopardy game during a company meeting. People tend to use jargon to look smarter, but good messaging can do that even more effectively. In addition to cutting out the jargon, leave out overused phrases.
  3. Passes the “Who Cares?” test. Companies tend to get so wrapped up in WHAT they do, that they forget to tell their audience WHY it matters. Messaging should speak to the industry and consumer trends that drive the need for a company, product or service. If it doesn’t, messaging becomes self-serving babble.
  4. Uniqueness. Every company has competitors, and most competitors look a lot alike. That’s why messaging is so important. Companies should check their messaging against their competitors’ messaging to make sure they lead, not follow.
  5. Memorable. Messaging must be easy to remember. This is important for both the person delivering the messaging in interviews, speeches and elsewhere, and also for customers and the media. There’s nothing more gratifying than a reporter repeating your messaging in an article.

Finally, it goes without saying, your messaging must be defensible. If it’s not 100 percent true, don’t say it.

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