The only key message format you’ll ever need

someone holding an old fashioned radio

Whenever I draft key messages, I imagine that radio personalities with commanding voices, like Rick Cluff, Bill Good or Matt Galloway, are announcing news that just came across their desks. 

What kind of words would they use?

Well, you can capture this on paper by standardizing your key messages.

This format isn’t exclusive to radio, but it helps to imagine it’s being read live, on air.

The first part of a key message is your motherhood statement. 

It’s like a headline.

For example: “ABC Corporation is proud to announce its support of Initiative X.”

This statement is a start, but it’s incomplete.

It requires support. In the form of bullets.

I recommend three.

These bullets should include details like numbers and facts. It lets your audience know there’s substance behind the headline.

The format looks like this:

ABC Corporation is proud to announce its support of Initiative X.

  • 40 per cent of Initiative X patrons need support with D, E, F, which aligns closely with ABC Corporation’s goals.
  • ABC Corporation will be committing $100,000 over the next three years to Initiative X.
  • ABC Corporation and Initiative X expect they will be able to achieve its goals of D, E, F through this collaboration.

The key message above explains what the support looks like (lots of money), what the support will do (achieve Initiative X’s goals) and when (the next three years).

But we’re not finished. 

Your audience will have more questions. 

For each of the supporting bullets, your audience will have questions about the details. Will the money come from shareholders? Why did you choose Initiative X and not Initiative Y? Who at ABC Corporation will be responsible for delivering on this? What does it mean for me as an ABC Corporation customer? What do I need to do? Where can I learn more? 

Anticipating these questions, you should have two or three more sets of motherhood statements combined with bullets to unpack everything to give you a comprehensive who, what, where, why, when and how.

By needing three bullet points for each motherhood statement, you are forced to dig into the details to justify each statement.

But what about the hard questions? The ones that are kind of uncomfortable to answer. Do those go in your key messages?

You put those in your questions and answers (Q&As)

That’s a blog post for another time.

Until then, standardize your key messages. That way, you’ll have everything you need the next time the phone rings and you hear a radio producer on the other end.