Tips for Developing and Honing Your Message

It is no secret that your message can be the lifeblood of your advocacy activities. Once you have decided upon a message, it is imperative that you refine it.


Creative Commons License photo credit: HellN

The process of honing your message involves identifying, developing and refining the most compelling arguments, facts, examples and anecdotes. Take into consideration hot issues and news cycles in order to identify a hook that you can use to interest the media and the public. Ask yourself whether there are any other themes you might make use of, such as holidays or anniversary dates. Where is the story?

Developing a motto or a theme can prove to be extremely helpful. Your message must be interesting to ensure the media will include it. It must also be relevant so that people will remember it. In addition, it must be persuasive for those who do not yet agree with you. Finally, it must be motivational for those who do agree with you in order to keep them on board.

When evaluating your message and honing it, you might consider scoring it to determine whether it meets all of the necessary elements:

Interesting-Does your message tell a story, feature a perspective that is timely or Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelakinteresting or include a conflict? Remember, your message must always have a hook.

Relevant-Ask yourself why the audience should care. How does your issue impact lives?

Persuasive-Why is your position the right position? How is the opposing position weak or wrong?

Motivational-What is it that you expect your audience to do as a result of your message?

Educational-Does your message provide the target audience with the knowledge they need to take the desired action?

Targeted-Will your message be able to make its way to the intended audience?

Carefully consider all of these elements and whether your message meets the goals of those elements. If you find your message is lacking in any of these areas, it is time to go back to the drawing board and continue honing your message until it does meet each and every element.

To learn more about developing an effective advocacy message, consider signing up for TheCapitol.Net’s 2-day Advanced Media Relations Workshop.

Source: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Section 10.14 Media Relations Principle 6: Hone your Message.

For more information about message development and advocacy in Washington, see

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