Developing your messages

In a previous blog post on media interview preparation, we covered the first step in the media interview process: the initial action you and your organization should take when first contacted by a reporter, blogger, freelance writer, etc. 

Next, we’ll address how to put your messages together so you can best tell your organization’s story to your audience through the news media. 

I’d like to first address some issues that may come into play as you huddle with your comms team and leadership to develop your responses. As a former U.S. Coast Guard public affairs officer, I lived by the acronym SAPP (Security, Accuracy, Policy and Propriety) when formulating responses. I first addressed any classified information concerns (Security), worked with subject matter experts to ensure my responses were factual (Accuracy), made sure I was aligned with federal release of information policy (Policy), and, finally, took the effort to present my information in good taste and be sympathetic to others (Propriety). 

We work with clients to help them identify their own version of the SAPP rule and provide guidance so they follow the rules when developing their organization’s messages. Once we have some rules in place, we then shift gears to message development and work with our clients to develop key talking points before each interview. 

In general, the key to delivering an effective message time and time again is a simple formula:

The answer to the reporter’s question + A positive organizational position statement = Your response

For example:

Question: Does your organization agree with the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate?

Answer: Our organization is in alignment with mandating the vaccine in healthcare settings. Vaccines and boosters are the most powerful tools we have in the battle against COVID-19; they save lives. Our focus will continue to be the safety of our member organizations and their staff members as we all work together to keep everyone safe.

We can work with you to formulate responses to similar media questions and provide expert tips to make your messages impactful and resonate with your audience. 

Stay tuned to the blog for our next installment where we’ll discuss interview preparation. And, remember, if you need more assistance or tips on developing your messages, please contact us at mail@commonwealth-pr.com or call 804-510-0039.