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The New Media Training Message Compass

April 27th, 2011

Ahh, media training.  If you’ve ever been trained, you probably remember the part about messaging, that delivering succinct, proactive messages about your brand is key in any interview with the media.  But most trainers get this part wrong.  They train you to deliver some messages—any messages – but how many messages should you share and in what order?

To solve this, we have created our very own Communications Compass.   We use this to train spokespeople in promotion and crisis situations to stay on message.  It’s intentionally shaped like a steering wheel and the goal is to use the compass to drive the interview towards your message.  Here’s how it works.

At the center of the wheel is the interview theme.  Every interview has one, intentional or not.  You should know going in what the topic is and how you can infuse your messages into the topic. The Compass is divided into three key message areas that dictate the logical order of messages.

The Context Message provides the background and issues that make your messages more timely or relevant to the audience.This can be recent legislation, new trends in the industry or developments or milestones from your company.

The Branded Message is your chance to promote (or defend) the approach or offering that you represent.  It is a more natural and credible way to infuse your company message following the context set up.

The Call-To-Action Message comes last.  This is your chance to tell your audience what to do next.   This doesn’t necessarily mean “go out and buy our product.”  It means, telling them how to ask the right questions, how to make the right moves or find the right information.  When done well, this leads them right to your offering.

Soundbites Stats and Stories

Messages alone, even in the right order are boring, forgettable and weak.  To bring them to life, you need to support them with lively supporting details in the form of soundbites, statistics and stories.  These are the true tools of the trade that take time to hone.  Spend the time to develop a living library of these to call on for every interview.

Sideline Issues

Messages in interviews don’t exist in a vacuum.  There are always related issues and tough questions that can sideline your interview.  These include:  recent litigation, current events and industry negatives, competitor crimes, or regulatory scrutiny of the industry or company.   The key is to anticipate these issues in advance and prepare positive, strong responses.

Remember, messages are just one healthy part of your complete media training breakfast.   Real training requires several sessions that include, scenario planning, role playing, mock interviews, hostile interview techniques, video examples  and tons of rehearsal.   But it all begins and ends with messages.

What message tips have you tried that worked?  Leave a comment and be eligible to receive a free one-hour session.

Posted Under: Media & Journalism, Public Relations
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