PR Word of the Week #32: Key message

A very wise friend of mine gave great advice during last week’s Young PR Pros episode. Molli Megasko, co-host of Young PR Pros, shared the best advice she had ever recieved by her mother: be an actor. In other words, know your lines. Be it a new business pitch, an interview or any work you are doing in communications for that matter, know your lines, know your key messages and memorize them as if you were an actor.

Key message

(kē ˈmesij)

The primary words, impressions or feelings we convey in our communications, advertising, marketing, brand image, social media, etc. Your key message if the core message you want your audience to hear and remember when they communicate and interact with your brand.

How to develop your key message(s)

  1. Know your audience. As with everything else in communications, your audience defines how you will tailor your message and method of communicating said message. Don’t communicate the importance of drinking milk for healthy bones to an audience of teenagers.
  2. What is your company’s objectives. You key message should reflect your company’s business goals and objectives. Your message should communicate a call to action that will in turn help your company reach your goals and objectives. Your message should never go against the goals of your company. If you are an environmentally friendly company selling paper, your key message should probably avoid talking about amount of trees your company uses to make your product.
  3. Follow the 4Cs. Your message should be clear, concise, correct and complete. It is best practice to have only a few key messages, even better if you can narrow it down to one. Your message should be clear and concise making it easy to understand. Your message should be to the point and comprehensible, avoid using jargon and complicated long sentences. Ensure any facts or figures in your messages are correct and ensure you include all relevant information. Getting all 4Cs is very difficult, but alas, that is our job.
  4. The elevator speech. Think of your message as an elevator speech. If you were riding an elevator with a potential client or customer, could you recite your key message in under a minute and without creating any questions before your client had to step off the elevator? If not, you may need to rethink your key message.

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