Association and chamber executives are always aiming to improve their organizations’ profiles and reputations.
Here’s one opportunity that many organizations ignore: Devoting conscious effort toward crafting magnetic messages can result in good play in the press, influence with policymakers, and retention of members. You’re in a better position to attain your goals if you develop and deliver a magnetic message.
The reality is many organizations have never developed formal messages for their key issues. Or if they have, the messaging is haphazard. While it is true that message development workshops can be sweat-producing, headache-inducing events, successful executives realize that there are no short cuts to developing a magnetic message.
Now can you build a message with the strength of steel? Start by asking some questions. For example:
- What is the problem?
- What is your solution?
- What is the next step?
- Why should they care?
- What’s in it for them?
- What do you want them to do about it?
- Who disagrees with you?
This list is by no means exhaustive, though it does give you a good foundation.
How can magnetic messaging create an advantage for you? Take the example of a company that wants to build a new facility but faces local opposition from neighborhood activists. The locals may decry faulty zoning laws. The company that develops its message skillfully knows enough to focus on the number of jobs created instead. Why? It’s simple. More people care more about jobs than arcane regulations.
Note how the organization is sensitive to what matters in its target audience’s minds, and plays both to that logic and emotion while, of course, telling the truth at all times. Get caught just once in a lie, and there goes your reputation—forever—and deservedly so.
Once you have achieved a first cut of your message, it is time to see if it can withstand the heat. How to test drive it? Subject it to some rigorous questioning. Make a list of all the tough questions adversaries could toss at you. If your message responds adequately, you have likely achieved success. It is vital that you practice dealing with the hardballs. One of the best methods for doing this is to simulate a Q&A session in which colleagues pelt you with questions.
Also, seek reaction from trusted colleagues and peers outside your organization. This external criticism provides you with good insights into how “on target” your messaging is.
There’s no time like the present to put your association or chamber on the road to organizational success by shaping and delivering your magnetic message. What other techniques and actions have proved beneficial to you in your messaging efforts?
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