Before you can really get going with PR for your business, it’s important to establish your key messaging. Solid messaging is vital for achieving impactful communications, so it’s best to get these nailed down early on.
Consider this blog your ultimate guide to small business messaging. Together, we’ll run through everything you need to know to plan, develop and refine your key messages.
We’ll start from the very top by asking…
What are key messages?
Key messages are at the heart of your branding and communications strategy. Essentially, they are the main takeaways about your business that you want your audience to see and retain.
In short and sweet sentences, your key messages outline who you are, what you do and why you do it. They highlight the things that set you apart and bring value to your audience.
Your key messages should be drawn on in all communications activity, both internal and external. They act as guidelines that will frame your PR and marketing efforts, rather than taglines that you need to repeat verbatim time and time again.
Why are they important?
Having established key messages ensures consistency across all channels of communication, supplementing your PR strategy by helping to build a unique and memorable brand image and identity.
As well as this, key messages have the power to help:
Cultivate your brand’s reputation
Maintain consistency when communicating with the press and wider media
Communicate your business goals
Increase brand awareness
Set your business apart from competitors
What makes a good key message?
Above all else, your key messages should be:
Concise: ideally you will have about 3-6 key messages, each of around 1-3 sentences in length. This will help to make them…⬇️
Memorable: key messages should be small in size but big in impact. You can help achieve this by making sure your key messages are…⬇️
Authentic: make your key messages real and relatable by emphasising the human side of your business. Think emotive statements rather than marketing slogans. They also need to be…⬇️
Strategic: you can’t rely on emotions alone. Your key messages should define your business and outline what sets you apart. And finally…⬇️
Adaptable: your key messages will act as the foundation of your communications activities across all channels, so it’s important they can be adapted to suit each platform. As well as this, your key messages will need to evolve alongside your business, so it’s vital they can be adapted over time.
How do I develop my key messages?
Now for the pièce de resistance, the reason why you clicked on this blog in the first place: how to develop key messages for your small business.
I’ve broken down the process into three simple steps to help you prepare, refine and finalise your small business messaging. So, let’s get into it…
Step 1: Brainstorm
The first stage is to get all the ingredients of your key messaging together.
Note down your mission and vision statements, your business values and goals. This will help you to develop messaging that supports your overall objectives and aligns with your business’s ambitions and identity.
Consider the needs behind your messaging, both internal and external. What are you trying to achieve with your messaging, what do you need them to communicate? What does your audience need from your messaging, what do you want them to take away?
You can set to work on all of this by considering the following points…
What key points do you want to convey about your business and its products or services?
Why is your business and its offering unique from competitors?
What does your business do for its customers? What value does it bring to their lives? What problem does it solve for them?
What three words describe your business?
Why did you establish your business? What was your aim?
Step 2: Construct and refine
Once you’ve got all the ingredients together, it’s time to get your key messaging cake in the oven!
Take a look at the words and phrases you’ve noted down from your brainstorming session and start to piece them together into short, snappy sentences that convey your business messages. You should focus on what sets you apart: the unique value you bring to your audience. If you can validate these points with things like statistics, quotes and data, all the better!
Once you have a set of draft messages, show them to your friends and family to see if they think they accurately represent your business. You can refine them even further by asking yourself:
Do these messages support my business and PR objectives?
Are they unique to me? Is there any crossover with my competitors?
Are they concise, memorable and authentic?
Do they spark action with my audience? Is my message clear?
Step 3: Finalise and adapt
Once you’ve got your key messages refined, it’s time to put pen to paper and add them to your brand guidelines. Housing your key messaging here means it's always there to refer back to, and helps to ensure consistency throughout your communications.
As with most areas of your business, it’s important to revisit your key messages now and again to ensure they are still reflective of your brand and the direction it’s growing in. Do they still convey your business’s overarching messages? Do they still resonate with your target market?
With any luck, this blog has you feeling ready to go with drafting key messages for your small business. They’re a really important part of your brand identity that will form the basis of many of your PR activities, so take your time with the creative process of constructing them.
Until next time, happy writing!
All my love, E xxx