By Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven®, for Greenlight Maine

#3 Message MapA message map is the foundation of all our public relations and marketing programs for clients. It includes a key message at its center that is 21 words in length. It takes seven seconds to say 21 words out loud. If you are familiar with broadcast news, you know that reporters and editors love seven-second sound bites.

We use the key message for more than just media interviews: we use it in brochure copy, speaking engagements, web copy and newsletter copy. Basically, you would use it everywhere you are talking about the organization. I like to say that it’s like a song sheet that lets everyone sing in harmony. You know the phrase, “Let’s all sing from the same song sheet”? Your message map allows you to do just that.

On your message map, you would write supporting messages or “proof points” around the key message. These are points that substantiate the claim you make in your key message. So, if you’re an airline, your supporting messages would describe your planes, your pilots, your flight attendants, your ticketing prices and your in-flight amenities, and your key message would describe why your airline is the right choice for its customers. Whatever you do, you need to be able to describe it concisely and everyone who works for the company should describe it in the same way.

Be sure everyone in your organization is singing in harmony and create a message map with all your key messages on one sheet of paper. Keep it handy for media interviews and any kind of promotional messages about your organization.