Nail your media messagingMay 27, 2021
You’ll hear us talking constantly about the need for preparation before taking up any media opportunities, and the importance of training spokespeople to make a positive difference. There is one key part of getting the media interview right that you will also see us mention often. We use the word ‘message’ throughout all our training and articles, but what does it really mean, and how do you get it right?
The message is the words that you write as a statement, the words that come out of a spokespersons mouth – the ‘statement’ that you choose to make to the media to persuade, confirm, or re-enforce your stance, your viewpoints or your opinions.
Staying ‘on message’ is vital for an organisation in a media scenario. Of course, that ‘message’ will differ depending on the objective of the outlet or media opportunity. Remember, the press is not there to provide unpaid advertorial space to you or your business. The likelihood is that you will be reacting to news, managing crises or even going head to head. This shows the importance of nailing your messaging in preparation. When this is ingrained, your spokespeople will be more comfortable within the scenario, and able to deal with questions that come up, however uncomfortable or ‘off brand’ as they know exactly what it is they need to say and convey on behalf of the business or organisation.
For a strategic and busy organisation, there is no point in being in front of the media for the sake of it. We need to make these decisions wisely, and to really have a handle on how we wish to be seen or heard by the public and why. This is why your messaging should be on point, universally accepted by your spokespeople and ‘ready to go’
The messaging matrix
Identify your core audience or audiences and the three key things you want them to know or understand about your business, opinion or cause. Work out how you explain these key ideas in an understandable way to your audiences and back up these ideas these ideas with some key statistics, examples and case studies. These are your messages. Remember this is not a sales pitch, but this ‘marketing’ perspective will help you formulate answers to questions from journalists.
Once you’ve got your ‘messages’ you will be able to formulate answers to a typical set of questions – these are your Frequently Asked Questions or FAQs. Sometimes you will have no idea what you are going to be asked in a media interview, but usually you will have an understanding of what people want to know. These questions can range from the basic ‘How did you start XYZ’ through to more nuanced, opinion-based questioning, or even aggressive questions. You can share this document for internal use, which gets employees used to the official messaging, and ensures everyone is on the same page with the main points to share, or the stories to convey.
The message on paper is one thing, memorising it another. The most important thing, and one we tackle with our media training at TCW, is the delivery of your message. How you say it, and how it resonates. We’ve got a great blog post to help you with that here. You will have to practice saying it out loud, and ask for and deliver feedback. Everyone is different in their delivery, but the message can still make the same impact, even with individual personalities and nuances in style.
Key things to remember when creating your media messaging
- Short & specific – keep it simple – think ‘importance’ with enough interest to engage.
- Know your audience – it may be more than one, but targeted communications are vital.
- Clear and concise – this helps you control perceptions that can often feel un controllable.
- Feedback and review – things change! Keep your matrix fresh.
Managing the media can feel overwhelming - The Communications Works offers training and coaching with journalists and PR professionals with global, top-tier experience. Preparation is crucial to a successful outcome for your brand or organisation, and we can help with creating your media messaging and media training for key spokespeople and heads of organisations. Download our brochure here or get in touch for a bespoke quote to meet your media training needs.
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