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Let Me Ask You a Question

question markIt’s much easier to answer questions when you have time to prepare. When you’re being interviewed by a journalist, grilled on the stand a trial, or trying to convince an HR manager to put you through to the next round, it helps to know the questions in advance. More often than not, you won’t have the questions in advance… or will you?

As a continuation of my series on messaging and positioning development from earlier this year, I wanted to make my next installment about how you can prepare for interview questions journalists might ask – but this advice could help you prepare for any interaction where you want to have exactly the right answer queued up. [Read more...]

How to Prepare for Press Interviews

As the next installment in my series on message planning and delivery, I’d like to focus on preparing for media and analyst interviews – a critical component to generating brand awareness for your organization (or clients) and taking your message to the masses, one journalist at a time. Here are the steps I recommend you take in preparation for media interviews, in order to consistently deliver your key messages to the influencers that reach your target audiences. [Read more...]

Message Mapping for Stronger Relationships

I think Lewis Caroll said it best, “If you don’t know where you’re doing, any road will get you there.” I think a lot of marketers live by this quote. They arrive at their messages when they get there. Their messaging evolves over time, but as such is incredibly inconsistent to the eyes and ears of the audience. To build any form of message retention among your target audiences, you need to be consistent across all your interactions. Everywhere your audience interacts with your brand, the message should build upon the last interaction. One approach to making sure this happens with relative predictability is to map your messages across the stages of your relationship with any particular target audience.

Say what? Every audience you interact with is made up of people. Just like your interpersonal relationships, your relationship with these people builds over time. It gets stronger or weaker based on the stimuli you bring to the table. Thing about the strongest relationships you have in your network. What are the common threads? Chances are you make a deliberate or subconscious investment in the relationship. You make an effort to get together. You regularly share information via email or social media channels. Perhaps you just remember them on their birthday. The more frequent and positive your interactions are with this person, the stronger the relationship. [Read more...]

Action, Reaction, Interaction and Transaction

I’ve been writing a lot about strategy in this series on message planning. When you enter the execution stage and start to plan your individual messages that support your strategies, it helps to think about the results and performance you plan to achieve with each message. I think it’s useful to go through the exercise of planing the ideal action, reaction, interaction or transaction you might produce in response to each message. [Read more...]

Find and Define Your Audiences

There’s an audience for anything and everything. Do you know who your audiences are? How about your most important audiences? There’s a stage in message planning that I like to fondly refer to as audience identification. I don’t know why I like to refer to it as audience identification, because it’s really the definition that’s the most important part. Rather than get caught up in semantics, let’s just focus on the two components of audience identification I find most useful. You should start your audience identification process by grouping your audiences into categories. From there, you can develop some personas that best represent subgroups of these audiences. If you’re fortunate enough to have actual data to play with, you can take things a step further and get really granular with your audience identification. I’ve summarized my perspectives on this approach below for you to think about more. For those of you that actually do audience definition for a living, please jump in and give the readers something more constructive to work with. [Read more...]

How To Create A Message Platform

As promised in my Message Planning post, here is the first post in my series on message planning. If you don’t know how to put together a message platform, this platform will help you understand some of the components most commonly found in them. If you already know how to create a message platform, I hope you’ll pick up a tip or two that you can use the next time you have to put one together – and I hope you’ll chime in with your suggestions for the less-experienced readers of this post. Please keep in mind that there are many different approaches to developing a message platform. Not all platform components outlined in this post are necessary or appropriate for every organization. I’m providing these suggestions as guidance for those going through this process for the first time. It’s up to you to evaluate and decide which components will help you best meet your communication goals.

Rather than drone on about all the reasons why you should create a message platform for your organization, I’m going to assume you have already gone through that process. If you need a reason, I think a message platform is a great way to get everyone in your organization on the same page with who you are, what you do and how you want to communicate all those things in various formats inside and outside of your organization. Let’s get started…. [Read more...]

Message Planning

This is the first post in a series on the importance of message planning in the communications process. I’ve been thinking a lot about message planning and message management over the course of the past couple of months. For one, we’re in the thick of the political campaign season. Few communication disciplines provide such a deliberate look into the effectiveness of communication planning to deliver a measured outcome as politics. While I personally have zero campaign management experience, as a communications professional, I appreciate the work campaign strategists do to manage messages over the course of a campaign. Say what you will about any of the candidates running for office at the moment, but behind all of them are talented communications professionals that know how to leverage market data to adapt – and in some cases manipulate – messaging to persuade audiences in one way or another.

It’s also a great time of year to start thinking about your own message strategy and planning process. If you’re like most organizations, you’re probably entering some form of annual planning. Budgets are being set for the coming year, and you’re most likely starting to think about the campaigns you’ll kick off in January. Most of these campaigns will include strategies for communicating with the target audiences most important to your organization. This is where message planning comes into play – or should come into play. Organizations that overlook the importance of message planning will waste valuable marketing resources trying to communicate sporadically with their audiences. Don’t make this mistake. [Read more...]

Five, Five-Second Rules for Delivering Your Message

Recently I went on a little road trip—about a thousand miles—and was amazed by the number of completely ineffective billboards. In the same way a reporter may only give a press release a five second glance, billboards must communicate its entire message in the same amount of time. While not traditional PR, in order to communicate effectively, billboards should follow the same 5 Five-Seconds Rules: [Read more...]