The key message delivery paradox

Effective communication strategies employ key messaging in order to ensure consistency of delivery by official spokespeople across varied platforms and channels. 

A lot of thought goes into deciding what a company or brand wants its spokespeople to tell people. Existing and potential audiences are mapped and segmented so that the most appropriate messages can be clearly communicated on a controlled basis.

All very rational and desirable; as long as spokespeople truly understand what key messaging is all about, and so can bring to life the words they are being asked to convey.

Sometimes the most appropriate messages for an audience are not necessarily what the company wants to tell them, unless these messages are also what the people think they want or need to know at the time and in the context of the communication.

We have all seen or heard interviews where spokespeople repeat exactly what they has been asked to say, but fail to establish an emotional connection, or even antagonise the audience. So the paradox of key message delivery is that sometimes the more ‘on message’ you are, the less you are likely engage or motivate people.

When we coach both experienced and new spokespeople, we often see them struggle to combine preparation and focus on the delivery of key messages and words with wanting to speak naturally and intuitively.

That’s why key messaging strategies should always be flexible enough to allow spokespeople to identify and respond to the most relevant touchpoint for an audience, and never be rigid about the delivery and repetition of particular facts, words or phrases.

Spokespeople must make judgement calls about why and how they are engaging with an audience; and the content and tone of what they say or write. They also have the knowledge and experience to bring messages to life with relevant insight, opinions and topical anecdotes.

That’s why we have designed our media coaching modules for spokespeople to consider key messages as the end of a process that starts with thinking about the audience they will be communicating with, and what will interest and resonate with them.

We then help the spokesperson to be able to select and refine the most appropriate key messages so that they will also be the most relevant, credible, convincing, compelling and motivating for people to hear or read on each occasion that they have the opportunity to communicate.