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defining your key messages is one of the most effective ways to build your confidence.

Key messages create cohesion, help define your focus, and serve as the cornerstone of your branding and marketing and are central to your PR strategy. They ensure accuracy and consistency.

AND they are like a bullet proof coffee for a sleep deprived biz owner…they give you confidence when you’re put in the spotlight.

But defining your biz’s messages can be a seriously daunting task.

Being clear on what you are about gives you peace of mind. It also ensures that you speak to the things that matter when a journalist hits record or the camera lens is turned towards you.

While you might already have key messages for your business, more broadly, your key messages for media interviews will be tailored for each opportunity you secure. And if you don’t already have any key messages defined…read on we got you covered.

Today we’ll introduce you to some steps that will help you isolate what makes you special and the value proposition that makes your company unique.

Nerves and PR key messages

Your key messages should be original, short, focused on the audience of the outlet you’re pitching (you can tweak and tailor them each time), focused on the benefits of your product or service and use simple language that suits your audience.

I wouldn’t recommend having more than five key messages or you will dilute the impact of what you’re saying.

When you’re clear on your key messages, you can then keep coming back to them throughout any media interviews to ensure you get your point across even when your knees are wobbling and the nerves kick in.

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crafting your key messages

We touched on this a little bit yesterday when we talked about angles and the importance of unpacking your story but today we’re going a bit deeper into the heart of who you are and how you connect with your customers.

Here are some simple steps that I always take when it comes to on boarding a new PR client. Through this process I get into the nitty gritty and get to know our clients, our clients’ clients…and what really makes them tick.

So, you should have identified who your customer is and started “interviewing” them. You should be peeling back their layers. What are their hopes? What do they fear? Which brands do they identify with? Why do they need or love your product? I really like to get into the head of the end customer and think about what they NEED in their life…this might be solutions outside of your product but by being seen as part of the broader conversation around your product or service you will quickly be seen to know exactly what’s going on in your industry, and by virtue become known as an expert.

Eg. a mum who is frazzled and juggling returning to work needs healthy, quick meals. But she may also be sleep deprived, craving routine, yearning for yesteryear when she was back packing around Europe or fantasising about a mid-winter holiday to Bali or looking forward to putting her feet up after work on the couch watching The Bachelor. Try to think broadly about the ‘lived’ experience of your customers and let these answers infuse your messaging. By interviewing your ideal customer and listening carefully to the language they use, you’ll also discover new ways to describe what you do and how your product or service helps people.

When it comes to crafting key messages, it’s vital that you keep a close focus on your biz goals. Before you spend time honing your key messages, it’s important to understand what those messages need to achieve. So reflect back to Day 1’s task and ensure you are crystal clear on your business goals for this campaign. Is it to sell? To educate? Make people aware that your business even exists?

Eg. If your media goals are to become a ‘leading expert in managing women’s health issues’, you will want to speak to the issues that women face in your key messages to ensure they are speaking to your audience pain points + your business goals.

You will want to be very clear (I’m sure you already are!) on how your business or product is different to the rest. What special capabilities, expertise, or accolades set your biz apart? How do you do what you do better/slower/faster/more ethically/smarter than the next guy?

Make sure you do a little sleuthing and understand what your competitors are saying. Research their messages. Read: research, not copy. It’s important to understand what your competitors are saying — and what seems to be resonating with their customers — to ensure your messages are hitting the right points and to counter their claims.

Brainstorm keywords associated with your brand. When people think about Apple, the words that come to mind may include innovative, ubiquitous, and effortless. What words do you want your audience to associate with your brand? Gather your team (or your closest biz pals/family/friends) and throw out all the words and emotions relevant to your business, products, services, or mission. Then refine the list until you arrive at a small handful of descriptive, powerful words to weave into your key messages or that simply help you set the tone.

Tone of voice words

SO HOW CAN WE use key messages to speak to our purpose and passion?

Your key messages should be infused deeply with your essence. If they’re unique and loaded with your story and your passion, they will immediately connect you in with the right people.

There is nothing like an interview to put the wind up your confidence and make you doubt your capabilities, expertise and ability to perform. BUT these next tips will ensure that your key messages are the life raft you need when the nerves come-a-wobblin’.

Remember the other day how we were saying that journalists are time poor and financially pinched news rooms and overflowing inboxes are imperatives to be even more tight with your pitch? Your key messages will help you quickly and succinctly communicate your message to a harried journo who has all of five mins to chat with you.

Balance what you need to communicate with what your audience needs to know. The more value you add to your audiences’ lives, the more likely they are to listen. Make sure the message is centred on a pain or pleasure point of your customer.

If you can be the source of meaningful information that stirs up action, you’ve won a big part of the battle for your audience’s attention. You’ll be recognised as the source of important information in your field, building credibility and trust.

In a time of ever-shorter attention spans, it’ll work in your favour not to over-embellish with all that flowery language. Avoid the jargon, use easy-to-understand language, and stick to the clear basics.

Make the message easy to recall and repeat. Allow your audience to help you amplify your story.

Avoid the tacky advertising slogan language that turns everyone off - the second you do this, any journalist will push you across to the advertising department instead of featuring you in an article. Remember you don’t have to fool anyone into connecting with you, the right people will flock to you if you’re clear in the way you put yourself out there. Use an active rather than a passive voice, and speak directly to your people.

Leave enough wiggle room around your key messages so that they can be adaptable to different target audiences, with flexible language and depth of information. We often revisit the key messages ahead of each client interview and adapt them for the particular audience and purpose of the interview.

Example key messages for me

DIY PR CHALLENGE key messages for Odette.png

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Now, before you have a crisis of confidence just know that nailing your key messages can be a really timely task. Something that might even be honed over weeks and months. Today, you’re going to spend an hour on this task so you might want to pencil some additional time in your diary in the coming weeks to revisit your messaging and see if you can polish up this little gem.

  1. Your task is to interview several people about your business. What are the common threads that appear or words that they use to describe what you do. Can you infuse your messaging with this inspiration? You might not have a sounding board available, so jump onto the Insta post for today and throw down some ideas.

  2. Brainstorm 3 words that help to set the tone for your language.

  3. List 3 things that sets you apart from your competitors.

  4. Define 3-5 key messages that help you speak to your business goals. Narrow down your messaging to short and simple statements that helps you confidently speak about your business.

How to DIY your PR homework day 4

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