Following is an excerpt from the recent position paper, “Eleven Elements to Mold a Magnetic Message: How to Shape Your Story for the Press, Policymakers, and the Public.” We’ll discuss each of the Eleven Elements individually to help you get a better handle on each one. Today, let’s turn to Element Four, Focus.
Let us further make it evident that we use no words which we are not prepared to back up with deeds… – Theodore Roosevelt
There are no shortcuts to developing a magnetic message. Indeed, message development workshops can often be sweat-producing, heart-pounding, headache-inducing affairs.
You won’t necessarily see fireworks and hear shouting (though some sessions can be intense). Still, honest and civil dissent should be viewed as productive.
To begin the process, devote some time to brainstorming or brainwriting. Begin to winnow the thoughts only when you have exhausted everyone’s “blue sky” contributions. And make sure to put your ideas on paper, so nothing gets lost in what is often a hectic procedure with ideas flying fast and furious.
To smooth out the process, choose a facilitator who can remain impartial in guiding your deliberations. This person could be someone inside your organization who has no personal stake in the issue at hand or an outsider. Just be sure he understands and agrees that his role is solely to move the process forward, not to take part in substantive discussions.
What brainstorming/brainwriting techniques have you found most useful? How would you advise others to learn how to use them?