by Dave Menzies
The other day I received a press release from a global manufacturing company with close to 3,000 employees and revenue in the $700-$800 million range. It was announcing a new office opening in a major U.S. city. Pretty heady stuff, except…the press release was absolutely terrible. It was a total of eight (8) sentences long without any details about how the new office was continuing the company’s worldwide expansion, what benefits it would bring to customers, what it meant to investors, etc. You would think a company that large could afford to hire someone who understood the value of disseminating a substantive press release to valued third-party media and, by default, target audiences, and the dangers of putting out something so hideous. The worst thing about this particular release was that it lacked any strategic messaging communicating the company’s value proposition to target audiences, which is really the purpose of press releases in the first place.
Strategic messaging is not some mysterious piece of scholarship published by learned men and women. It is descriptive text about what makes a business or organization worthwhile to prospects and customers, a mix of a mission statement and value proposition. The seeds of strategic messaging are easy to find — just look at any business plan or nonprofit filing documents.
Most of the time, a mission statement is somewhat of a “pie in the sky” version of what value the business or organization brings to stakeholders. Strategic messaging helps bring such information down to the user experience level while still holding onto a bit of that special something that makes prospects want to affiliate with the entity as a customer or member. Usually this boils down into three-to-five main themes, which can be divided into individual subsets of keywords and content supporting each theme. This content then gets disseminated via PR, marketing, advertising, and social media tools to target audiences on a regular, recurring basis, affiliating the business or organization’s brand with the three-to-five themes. This helps in numerous ways such as producing strong organic search engine results for customers looking for something online, and also with positioning within a market sector.
In addition to fleshing-out the major themes within separate content buckets, individuals crafting strategic messaging will want to combine the themes in some fashion into an “About Us” informational blurb (referred to as a “boilerplate” in the PR world) that can be used in multiple instances. For example, my boilerplate looks like this:
About Innovative Public Relations, Inc.
Innovative Public Relations, Inc. is a North Carolina-based consultancy providing PR coaching, consulting, and training to give you an unfair advantage. Our specialty is getting established and early stage business and organizations in front of target audiences via proven effective publicity and branding tools and methodologies. For more information visit www.innovativeprnc.com.
It’s pretty basic, but it gets the job done, describing what my company does; the markets it serves; and the value proposition of getting clients in front of target audiences. Obviously, you will want to have some type of contact information in any boilerplate; I use my website URL.
The major themes of my strategic messaging appear over and over again in my press releases, newsletter articles, blog posts, editorials appearing in trade magazines, interviews with reporters, and within presentations I give. The content supporting these themes changes over time to reflect up-to-date trends, but the themes remain the same. Strategic messaging is one of the very first things I produce for all my clients, usually taking about two weeks tops to get a final version approved and in use. Once it’s out there, it’s just a matter of consistency to keep getting the client company in front of target audiences.
If you are going to communicate anything to anyone about your business or organization, be sure you have something to say with strategic messaging, and when you do have it together be sure to actually use it in press releases, etc.
Otherwise, why bother?
– Dave Menzies is an award-winning PR coach, consultant and trainer. An advocate for America’s startup community, he provides group training and individual mentoring opportunities including PR101, PR201, and PR301 online courses designed for bootstrapping entrepreneurs. For more info give Dave a call at (910) 899-8935 or shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.