For every message, you should develop at least two of each type of support, which will allow you to articulate the main themes of your messages in every answer without ever sounding repetitive. Compelling stories typically have five components.
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You will probably not use your messages verbatim in media interviews very often; rather, you will communicate the themes of your messages in your own words. But since messaging forms the foundation of everything you communicate— in the media, during public presentations, on your website, in brochures, and even during casual conversations— it is important to invest time in developing powerful messages up front.
Messages should be Simple + Clear + Concise & supported by examples. Here is the perfect recipe for creating the right key message.
A message map is the foundation for all communications relating to an organization. Once it has been developed, a message map serves as the blueprint for all communication on a topic, from talking points to marketing collateral, website copy and anything else you may need to create.
I have worked with developers and commercial real estate firms on high profile projects. In working with them, and their team of consultants, I saw how important it is to engage key stakeholders early in the process of any mix-use development and project that has the potential to impact a community. I have also experienced this as the Communications Director for the City of Detroit and Press Secretary for the Mayor of Detroit.
From the design stage to the public process in securing permits, in addition to raising capital and targeting potential retailers and other tenants, constant engagement is vital to the success of any project. In addition, developing strategic relationships helps to minimize risk and help anticipate barriers to seeing projects to their completion.
Here are three simple tips every developer needs to know before announcing any high profile project:
- Get to know the key stakeholders who will support and oppose your project. This includes government leaders and community groups. Develop relationships with them long before you announce your project, to build trust, understand their concerns and find support later on – should you need it.
- Meet with their leadership in advance to understand their concerns and be ready to respond to them if necessary. This will also help bolster your position during the public process in securing approvals for permits and variances.
- Identify a reporter that would be interested in your project to share information and background with so that when you are ready to announce, it will be covered extensively.
More specifically, here a three action items you should implement now and before you publicly announce your project:
- Create a website to gauge and solicit stakeholder input and encourage conversations from project stakeholders. This could help in generating ideas, set priorities and avoid risk to external issues later. It will also help bolster your position before city council in seeking necessary approvals.
- Directly engaging community groups to develop strategic relationships and support for projects early on in the process. This includes engaging members of city council directly on your vision and the merits of your plans well before you announce anything.
- Work with the media in educating others about the project. This includes developing relationships with specific trade publications covering the development and construction industry to share information about the projects you are working on or recently completed. By building up a portfolio, people will begin to trust you and the work you do in the communities you serve.
Primary Message:The Challenge (Background/Summary of the problem)
Secondary Message: What needs to change, barriers, issues? What is the desired change or outcome? What do we hope to achieve? (this could be a policy change, funding, etc.)
Why do you have the solution or are a leader in finding solutions? What do you do? Why do you do it? This should include personal stories tied to emotions to create a story and an image in the legislators mind, complete with research or statistics/numbers to show positive results.
The Ask: What is the call to action or solution?
KEY TAKE AWAYS These will become are key messages so what do you want them to remember about your visit.
Don't forget to always leave something with them -- a folder, brochure, fact sheet etc. and then don't forget to follow up with them after your meeting.