It’s been about a decade since my last first date, but I can still recall some truly cringeworthy experiences. The ones that really stick with me typically involve a date who would give a rundown of impressive personal accomplishments and stories highlighting his overall awesomeness…without asking me a single question about myself. Check please.
Of course, dating and developing key messages are not the same thing, but my bad date story illustrates that focusing your message only on what you want people to know isn’t always well received. In general, people like to feel that their perspective is acknowledged and understood when receiving information.
Intentionality in a communication plan requires that the message be carried through to your stakeholder groups beyond an initial announcement. Specific stakeholder perspectives may not always inform the overall message in detail, but they play a big part in follow-up efforts and reinforcement of your message. Consider walking through the steps below the next time you are developing key messages.
Identify Your Stakeholders
With any message, there will be different internal and external groups affected by the information you are sharing. It is okay to start broad here, as you go through the process you may discover the need to go more granular with your stakeholder groups.
Different stakeholder groups may hold different levels of understanding about the information you are preparing to share. It is important to level-set this understanding in order to speak more authentically to their perspective with your message.
What’s in it for me? You need to ask this question of each stakeholder group. Sure, it sounds a little harsh, but ultimately this is the information that your stakeholders want to hear. While this doesn’t always come out in the primary message in detail, it becomes more important as you cascade additional information down to your stakeholder groups.
Objections & Questions
Understanding why some of your stakeholders may object to your message and identifying the questions they will have is important, because you can proactively develop messages that speak to them. This step is particularly helpful for creating a FAQ document to help with the reinforcement of your message.
I can’t even think about this one without Queen’s iconic rock ballad running through my head. A champion is your cheerleader, your advocate and often a strong feedback loop when executing change communication strategies. Identifying and engaging champions can be key to the success of your plan. Their feedback and collaboration can help you refine and adjust your message along the way. You won’t need them for every situation, but if you have a long term project they are a great asset to consider.