Messaging, the Unsung Hero of Communications

Organizations tend to invest relatively significant amounts of time, effort and money on communication vehicles (such as websites, brochures, and annual reports) with relatively little focus on the core product of those vehicles – messages.

This leads to rather unsatisfying messages, most often seen as a laundry list of “Key Messages” that a spokesperson may rely on in handling interviews on an issue or initiative. These messages often lack clarity, focus and depth.

The second problem with this approach to message development is that it under-values a core area of unique contribution offered by strategic communications. Communications measurement tends to focus on outputs of activities (number of web hits, number of attendees at an event) without any real appreciation or reporting on the inherent value of the actual messaging itself.

Message development is tough work, but is central to the unique contributions that communicators offer organizations and as such, it deserves to be treated as an important core function.

A simple way to improve your messaging is to think in terms of “Message Architecture”. I like this concept because it connotes structural soundness, as opposed to a mere hodgepodge of random messages strung together. The idea is to focus on a key value proposition message, and then create supporting messages by key audience segment.

This Results Map Message Architecture Worksheet can help foster a strategic approach to the art of message development. It’s a simple but powerful tool that connects objectives, to audience analysis, to messaging pillars (e.g. existing message elements that form the foundation for content) leading to the creation of a Message Architecture.

If messaging is your product, make sure you give it the attention it deserves.