- What makes for an effective client message? How do you, or the client, know when it’s time to update it?
It needs to stand out, it needs to be different and, most importantly, it needs to be simple. Too many companies try to cram in everything that they do, or they load it with too much jargon. That doesn’t work.
As for when to update your message, I would say there are a few catalysts. I think the most important one is if people’s eyes gloss over when you give them your elevator pitch, and then they say, “oh that’s great,” and change the subject. Or, they ask you to explain it again and again. You want to make sure the message resonates with your target audience. Are you hitting their triggers or pain points? Do they want to hear more?
There are many other catalysts though. Often a new CMO joins the company and they want to change up the message. Or maybe they’re refreshing their website. An acquisition is another big one.
- What are a couple examples of a message done right?
One that we did for Relayware, a partner relationship management SaaS provider: “Companies that rely on their partner networks for revenue growth use Relayware. Our software and services provide valuable insights, bring you closer to your partners, provide visibility into their effectiveness, improve their training and empowers them to reach their potential.”
This clearly outlines who the target audience is, identifies the needs of those audiences and positions Relayware as the one who can fulfill those needs – all without any kind of jargon (for instance, not one mention of partner relationship management solutions or PRM), and in just two sentences.
- Do you find that most clients are eager to revamp their messaging? Or do you think more need to be talked into doing it, and why?
Most are very eager, but they also know the process isn’t easy. Our job is to help our clients reach a consensus and cut through to a clear message, and make it as painless as possible.
- What do you think other PR pros need to know about client messaging in order to ensure they’re getting the most out of these sessions? What are some best practices that you think others might not be aware of?
Get the right people in the room, but keep it small. Too many cooks in the kitchen means there’s less of a focus. The right people tend to represent the sales efforts/team (VP of Sales), the customer’s challenges and pain points (VP of Customer Success), the go-to-market strategy (CMO/VP of Marketing and/or Corporate Comms VP) and the product itself (CTO or other product-focused manager).The next step is to break it down into two half-day sessions. The first one is spent on brainstorming ideas, phrases and words in the context of specific questions around benefits and target markets. The second session should focus on testing the message(s).
Make sure you test the message externally, too. Go to a few customer friendlies as well as industry analysts.
And, finally, make sure that those involved have fun, are open minded and feel like they’re getting something of value out of the sessions.
- Do you have any unique tactics to help pick your clients’ brains in these message sessions? Something that helps get the ball rolling and the creative juices flowing?
Start with a brain teaser, to get everyone relaxed and feeling open minded. Write down ideas onto sticky notes and post them on the walls – it’s a fun and interactive way of keeping everyone engaged. Ask the difficult questions and participate so they can know where your thoughts are going in terms of their message.
About Cheryl Gale
Cheryl started a 20-year, international career in PR and communications over on the other side of the pond, where she helped shepherd two agency transformations in the United Kingdom: the opening of The Weber Group’s (now Weber Shandwick) London offices and the creation of Band & Brown’s technology division. She cultivated an extensive background in international PR experience, but perhaps the ultimate takeaway from her time in the U.K. was the value of defining her own PR mission statement – and taking the reins herself in driving that forward.
That’s why, when Cheryl relocated back to the U.S. 12 years ago, she co-founded March Communications on a simple but essential principle: helping innovative technology brands, both in the U.S. and abroad, to stay a step ahead of the curve by creating lasting momentum and aligned marketing communications programs. To do that, Cheryl has assembled an eclectic group of energetic, creative and intelligent people at March with a shared passion for pushing the envelope in how to effectively market U.S. and international tech brands, and leverage cutting-edge solutions for maximum exposure.
In addition to her role as Managing Director at March, Cheryl also seeks out and embraces every mentor and advisory opportunity outside of the office. She currently serves as the President-Elect of the Publicity Club of New England, and sits on various PR panels at Boston University and Emerson College, where she shares her ideals of what makes for exciting PR to inspire a new generation of rising young professionals with their eye on the tech PR world.
About FAST 5
This is an interview feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos
Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at email@example.com and pitch your subject expert!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or board of directors of either organization.