Secrets to Effective Key Messages for Media Training

KeyMsg1 By Gerard Braud

Do your key messages suck? Most people think not. I think they usually do.

Expert Media Training requires solid key messages. But public relations people have been taught that a key message is little more than giving your spokesperson or CEO a handful of bullet points, then turning them loose to do a media interview.

This spells disaster and here is why.

[ Learn more with PRSA – Effective Messaging: Writing & Speaking With Words That Resonate  ]

In a media interview the goal of the spokesperson should be to deliver a great quote because great quotes manipulate how the reporter writes his or her story. Great quotes seldom come from a spontaneous ad-lib. The greatest quotes are planned, written, and practiced to perfection.

Here is an example of what the average PR person at a hospital might give to his or her CEO in a media training class as they prepare the executive for a media interview.

They may tell the boss, Our three key messages are:

1) patient care

2) our new equipment

3) giving back to the community

The average CEO would then ad-lib: “We have the best doctors and medical staff in tKeyMsg2he state and we’ve won numerous awards. We have the best equipment in our region, including the new super knife computer system that we paid $20-million dollars for. Our surgeons are all well-trained. And I can assure you the care of our patients is our top priority. Plus, we give back to the community”

That’s horrible.

What if your CEO said this: “At Denver Hospital our goal is to be there when you need us the most. We do that by treating those simple illnesses that make you feel crummy; by treating you or your family members when they are challenged by major hospitalization; and by offering wellness care to keep you healthy.”

Which sounds polished? Which sounds professional, yet approachable? Which uses the language of the patient without being sucked into jargon? Which sounds internally focused and self-centered and which sounds as though you truly are putting the customer first?

If you’d like to learn how to effectively write and deliver key messages, join me in Chicago on September 17, 2015 when the Public Relations Association of America (PRSA) presents, Effective Messaging: Writing & Speaking With Words That Resonate

You will spend time evaluating your current messaging. You will learn to write new messaging using a conversational tone. Then, you’ll have a chance to verbally test-drive your messages to determine if they resonate with your audiences.

Great communications is no accident. Great communications requires great writing, practice and implementation.

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