Developing your Organization’s Media Message

Organizations can have multiple messages they wish to convey to stakeholders and the media at any given time. There are many ways a campaign message can be created, but here are four basic steps that can help to ensure the process goes smoothly.

First, you must have agreement on the goal of the message. There is usually little debate when the goal is clear, such as supporting an effort to get Congress to pass a bill. In some cases, goals might not be clear and it will be necessary to clarify specific goals.

Once the goals for the campaign message have been agreed upon, the next step is to identify the target audience–who the message is intended for. Do some research and identify their needs and interests. Ask yourself what their values are and how those values relate to your organization. A smaller audience significantly enhances the chance that your message will be successful.

Next, you need to develop and clarify the language you will use in your message. Words serve as the building blocks for any successful public relations campaign. The language you use in the campaign is critical, and can make the difference between success and failure. The choice of words can also have policy implications–journalists are always on the lookout for inconsistency. The language you use must mesh in a seamless manner with the actual policy. When deciding on the language, also consider your target audience. Ask yourself what words and tone will resonate best with the target audience.

Test your message with your target audience. It is well worth the time and effort.

Finally, be creative. Boring messages do not succeed. Competition for the attention of the public and the media is fierce. What images and phrases can be used to connect with the audience? Make your message stand out.

Reference: Media Relations Handbook, by Brad Fitch, Section 3.5 Campaign Message Development

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