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 Ten, Chronicle.
“Apt words have power to suage the tumors of a troubled mind. – John Milton
Put your messages in writing—always, even if the issue seems fairly minor. This will aid greatly with your company’s message discipline and consistency. Keep it simple. There’s no need to waste time and energy doodling with an overly complicated diagram or trendy infographic (of course, it’s fine to develop such tools for outreach purposes after you’ve assured your message is ready for prime time).
Stick to a one-page document that highlights the four legs of your message. Below each main point, include bullet points that support your contentions and suggest quotable quotes. Sticking to this one-page format also helps you keep things streamlined, automatically instilling discipline that helps you avoid the verbal excess that afflicts so many organizations.
Revisit your message regularly, for it is a constantly evolving creature. There is no guarantee that today’s magnetic message will suffice tomorrow, so reexamine your messag
e on a quarterly basis at a minimum, more often for rapidly shifting issues. The frequency depends on such factors as how swiftly your environment changes, the profile of the issue, and changes in your C-suite team or spokesperson roster.
Refuse the temptation to entrust your chief communications officer with remembering your messages. What happens when she departs or gets hit by a bus? There goes all your institutional memory. To emphasize, write it down, then revisit habitually.
Share with the rest of us an instance when your written notes helped you through an interview with a reporter or another tough Q&A session.