Developing Effective Key Messages

Concise, clear messages that encourage action are essential to any media strategy, online content, or personal interaction. They allow you to develop effective press material and online content, focus your media interviews, and be consistent with reporters and other key stakeholders. According to Al Upchurch, Marx Layne’s media training director, a strong set of messages has four key elements:


Clearly define the reason for the media event, press release, or stakeholder interaction and other related content.

Example:  “In light of potential economic incentives, the company today announced that it is considering expanded it manufacturing presence in North America.”

Why Is It Important?

This explains why the media and other key audiences should be interested in the issue or event.

Example:  “The addition of a new manufacturing facility would result in significant employment and economic benefits to the region.”

Solution/Course of Action

Upchurch explains that you should also provide a solution or course of action to the issue or event that you have defined.

Example:  “The company will pursue all options for locating a new production facility in North America, and will continue working with local governments for a scenario that best meets the needs of both parties.”

An effective message outlines what needs to be done to achieve the desired solution. Ideally, this will provide a way for others to get involved with your initiative or campaign.

Example:  “If you are interested in the benefits a new business will create in your community, please let your local representatives know by sending them a letter of support.

Tips for effective messages

  • Define your audience before crafting your messages (Employees? Shareholders? Customers? Politicians?). Who you are speaking to will determine how you focus and construct each point.
  • Messages are most effective when they are That is, when they speak to how a given issue will impact an individual or group of individuals, and how they can become involved in the solution.
  • Make sure all of your messages are supported by solid, well-researched facts, and that you have easy access to this data before doing interviews.
  • Make sure all of your spokespeople are familiar with your key messages before talking to the media. Consistency across your organization is important.
  • While key messages are a very important, they aren’t meant to be straightjackets. Some situations will require you to go beyond your messages, or even develop new ones.

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