Michelle Han May 24, 2016 | 12:30:34

Perfecting Your PR Messaging

Crafting the right messaging for public relations is like laying a strong foundation for a solid PR program. Whether your brand is strictly B2B or consumer, it’s worth spending the time to make sure core messages are bulletproof, easy to understand, and translatable in any format. This must hold true whether your team is speaking to media contacts, a room full of potential investors, or prospective customers. Here are our tips for perfecting your public relations messaging.

Maintain a “living and breathing” messaging document. When our team starts with a new client, we take a “deep dive” into the company’s background to capture its most important principles and develop a core narrative. The resulting document is key to guiding the PR team in every type of outreach as we tell the brand story. It also allows us to anticipate and answer questions from the media or public. Consider the document somewhat malleable, so the team can remain flexible and adjust to the company’s needs as they develop and change. It should contain the company’s founding story, provide an overview of what services or products are offered, and answer two crucial questions: “What sets you apart?” and “What difference will this make?”

Keep it short. Being concise can be challenging when there’s so much to say, but messaging needs to be short enough to be memorable and focused. Narrow the responses to the most important elements of the story, and edit again until the points are easy enough to commit to memory.

Steer clear of jargon. Buzzwords and jargon are the enemy of clear, concise messaging because they cloud the story with phrases that are either empty or unclear. Try testing the messages on friends and colleagues in the target audience who aren’t involved with the brand. They’ll be able to help you weed out jargon and empty words.

Tell a story that resonates. Messaging isn’t just about providing information about the product or services you offer, it’s also about tapping into ideas that resonate with listeners by getting them excited or engaged. Emotion is an important part of resonance, and so is familiarity with the stories we hear — the sense that the message ties into some broader theme we already know and love. We once wrote about the story types that repeat themselves over and over again in the news. Make it personal, when appropriate, and use compelling stories as part of your messaging to capture the listener’s imagination and keep them asking more about who you are and what you do.

Practice and perfect. Many company founders and spokespeople are completely at ease telling stories to media and the public, and some could use some practicing and polishing. Regardless of where you are, practice your elevator pitches and two-minute answers to the most important questions about the company or brand. Doing so not only builds confidence, but helps ensure that the most important points aren’t forgotten in the heat of the moment during a media interview or speech. Practice also helps you control the direction and focus of a media interview, by maintaining focus on what matters most.

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