In fact, I knew about the new blog some time ago when Eric reported on my post about how key messages can be made to be more flexible, but mum was the word until it launched officially.
However, he also recently wrote a new post, The Key Message is Dead, which calls for “engaged discussion.” Now, that sounds like a very commonsense approach (pun intended), but I have to take a little exception. While I agree that manufactured statements are becoming passé, I think it is important for an organization to communicate its character effectively. I don’t think “winging it” is the best plan.
Unfortunately, the three message format, with extensive rehearsal to teach executives to bridge to these pre-determined messages, is starting to become less effective as journalists and the general public sees through the tactic.
Instead, it is many messages, both spoken and unspoken, which help to inform our impressions of a person or company. I think the evolution of the key message should be to communicate our corporate/organizational values over specific message points, using examples to drive home the point. In this way, the messages we send can form a harmony of sorts, much of like music, with each note or message contributing to the thesis of the entire piece (if you don’t get the musical reference, don’t fear, the next part is very practical).
4 Steps to Values-Based Key Messages
- Formulate your values in short, easy-to-remember statements
- Integrate your values into the corporate culture by using every opportunity to compare what you do (jobs and initiatives) with what you say you believe and adjust accordingly
- Align new and old initiatives with the claims you make about your company, if you say you believe in customer service, generate examples of how you do that
- Communicate these ingrained values by making a values statement, providing and fact and giving an example:
KEY MESSAGE = Values Statement/Claim + Fact + Example
You can begin this process by making a matrix with your key values at the top, each team member can add his or her activities under the values statement with which they best fit, then you can explore real-world examples of how your organization lives out these values. It should make communicating succinctly about what the organization stands for more natural and engaging, as Eric suggests.
What do you think about key messages, are you still using them effectively and do you think a values-based messaging system would work?