Working with my clients starts with a few simple questions about how they see themselves and how they want the world to see them. My job is to bridge the gap between those two perceptions. It ain’t easy.
A big obstacle for many is developing their key messages. Not the company tag line or marketing slogan but the core “what are we taking up space for” message.
Capturing those concepts is not an easy task and I know when I start to dig down there is a lot of resistance and fear. If you are working with a good agency they won’t let you tell them what your message is – they will ask you to allow them to help guide you to creating a powerful and meaningful message. Your anchor.
Sometimes you need to simply explain your business – good – do that without jargon or sales speak and you will have shown Herculean strength of business acumen. So many businesses, charities, government agencies default to a phrase that alludes to reality or skips gaily past it with feel good platitudes. References to company core values are irrelevant if they are not proven or evident in reality. A key message is grounded in the current state and reflects future states.
Key messages are also critical when you face a crisis. This is an opportunity to share the truth about who you are and what the organization stands for.
I’ve seen interviews with business leaders who have obviously been coached for their turn in front of a camera or microphone. That’s not a bad thing, the problem is when the CEO or spokesperson “stays on message” no matter what they are asked. This is when the adversarial relationship with media can destroy credibility and invite ridicule.
My key message is simple, Big Bang Communications communicates what matters. I may use different versions of my root message if I were educating businesses about Social media as a tool, or if I was talking about the value of professional peer awards programs or mentoring or teaching. You get the idea. Key messages are not meant to limit you or your company – they are shiny beacons to help light the way to your core.
So work on key messages – test them on your own employees and trusted peers, test them if you have the stomach for the feedback which may not reflect your own thoughts. Good luck.