Need Help Building a Message Map for
Your Management Team’s Media Interviews?
Unless you have worked a for a very large corporation or you can afford to hire a very expensive public relations firm, you probably have never heard of or seen a real world “Message Map.”
The purpose of a Media Map is to give an executive a one-page document with the most important message points to cover during a media interview. Even the most powerful, intelligent, and brilliant executives can sometimes falter under the intense pressure of striving to deliver a successful and informative media interview. But during a moment of lost direction or a temporary memory lapse, having a summarized document listing all of the most important talking points to glance at while talking can make a big difference in the outcome of an important media interview. It is a great way to load the reporter down with accurate facts and figures and all of the recommended PR message points.
And while using a Media Map to deliver successful media interviews is vital to generating positive publicity, it is the underlying process of exploring, building and finalizing Message Maps that is more important for management team’s goal of transforming a startup into a Fortune 500 company because it forces them to put down all of their ideas, strategies and subject matter knowledge onto paper. This allows advertising, PR and marketing people to see what information and subject matters they have to work with and then begin to massage the raw messages into something that customers and media outlets will desire and be able to use.
More times than not, when executives are required to attend their first media training event they are not very enthusiastic about it, especially when the portion of Message Mapping is introduced. It requires each executive to talk about the main role of their job, the features and benefits their teams deliver for the corporation as well as their specific areas of expertise and even past career positions they have held.
This process usually starts out very slow, but it always turns out to be a deliberate and enlightening exercise. A person at the front of the meeting begins with one circle in the middle of a white board, which contains the main mission of the corporation then spokes of a wheel are drawn and smaller circles are listed for each executive. As executives speak about their expertise, more spokes are attached to the circles. Each spoke contains a single important message point.
PR firms like this exercise because it allows us to see and record what pools of knowledge and expertise each executive has that we can share with the press during media interviews. As executives begin to open up and share what skill sets they possess it always interesting to see them begin to feed off of each other’s ideas and open their minds to new ideas, strategic concepts and new directions that the company might be able to pursue that without this exercise would remain hidden, undiscovered and never explored nor tapped.
It quickly becomes apparent to everyone in the room that Message Mapping is an extremely good business development tool for learning more about the rest of your management team and being able to cross-train executives to seek out and utilize these new found skills and expertise to promote the overall well-being and mission of the corporation as it moves forward.
And once everything is written down on paper, polished by PR folks and then approved by the management team it can then be used by thousands of executives in public discussions. Message Maps and FAQ Sheets are excellent tools for making sure that all executives stay consistent with regards to what is being said to the media and how everyone in the whole company positions the company to the outside world including the sales team.
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