Chapter 4: Strategic Messaging
The storytelling part of the equation ties back to the audience. What narrative will generate attention, change attitudes or spur action from your target audience? You can’t answer these questions without really knowing your audience. If I want the three kids in my house to finish chores, I know how to make the request compelling, but it completely depends on the kid.
- The threat of lost videogame time gets the 9-year-old boy moving.
- A stern plea moves the soft-hearted 6-year-old.
- The promise of getting out the Play-doh princess set has the 4-year-old girl tossing toys in the bin.
The core information (DO YOUR CHORES) remains the same, but you craft the messaging to appeal to specific audiences.
Whaling says a current challenge for public relations professionals is shifting the mindset away from broadcasting messages and toward tailoring messaging to more of a one-to-one feel. “How can you take something that’s working big picture and make each customer feel like it was created specifically for them?”
The discovery process identifies audiences, but understanding who they really are, how they talk, what they do and like and think – that is a separate step in the planning process. Crafting effective messaging requires a thoughtful consideration of:
- What is the organization’s relationship with the target audience?
- What does reader have/need?
- What tone or wording fits this reader?
- What are likely responses or objections to your message?
- What’s in it for the reader (why should they care)?
- What questions might they have?