An homage to the humble, yet all-powerful message platform

When I develop a communications plan with a client, one of the first activities I recommend is to develop a message platform. This resource can go by many other names, pick your favorite: key messages, talking points, Rosebud. No matter what you call it, the point is to identify the 2-3 key messages you want to convey to each of your target audiences. Then document those key messages along with supporting proof points.

Once you’ve got your message platform, then discipline comes in. You’ve got to stick to that message platform like glue. Designing a website? The message platform is your blueprint. Writing email copy? Consult the platform. Pitching by phone? The platform is your script. Media interview?  Bridge to your platform.

Before long, boredom may set in from the repetition — but that’s the point. Early in my career I was taught that we have to hear new information three times or more before it registers in our thick skulls and we can remember it. (I expect it’s more than three now, given how saturated today’s information environment is.) So we communicators have got to repeat ourselves, sometimes ad nauseum, just to register with the folks we are trying to reach.

I witnessed the power of a good message platform very recently. One of my clients is involved with a contentious issue, and early trade press coverage had not been positive. We worked together to develop a message platform that got the company’s key messages across while avoiding a devolving debate. The message platform has guided several interviews since then, and the resulting coverage has positioned the company positively.  Now we are working on a website, and it is coming together naturally from the message platform.

I’ve been known to tell people that I’m not that smart about communications, what I am is disciplined, persistent and experienced. My experience has shown time and again that developing a good message platform as part of an overall communications plan will focus your efforts, and get you where you want to go better, faster and cheaper.