Key messaging – not another strapline

By Angela Bensemann, Director Halo Communications

Getting your key messages right is an artform. More and more businesses and organisations are recognising the importance of having a set of key messages that reflect what they’re doing and hit the right note with their audiences.

Key messages are not three-word straplines or pithy slogans devoid of punctuation. They are actual sentences that describe what you do or what’s happening.

They are messages that can be used in media releases, adverts, posters and on websites and anything else you’re producing. Once you get them right they can be used across everything you do.

The clue is in the title – they are ‘key’ which means the most important things people need to know.  They should be limited to the top things people really need to know about your organisation, product or event. If you can’t say it in three to five sentences you need to go back to the drawing board.

You may well have secondary messages and if you have lots of different audiences you may need to tweak the messages to suit but at the heart of everything you do will be your key messages.

Golden rules for key messages:

  • The most important information goes first. If someone only reads the first few lines will they know what’s happening?
  • Use the right tone. Use words that people understand the first time they read it without having to pull out a dictionary and call in a translator.
  • Different audiences like different tones. For example, messages targeted to youth will be a lot different than those targeted to the over 60s.
  • Tailor your messages for different audiences. You might want to tell your staff about the same change or event, but they will want different information from the general public.
  • Three – five messages are enough, but you may have some secondary/supporting messages as well.
  • Run your messages past someone in your target audience – do they make sense to a real human?
  • And remember key messages are sentences not advertising straplines.