As you may know, I’m a communication coach (among other things I have the pleasure of pursuing these days). I work mostly with non-profits. It’s fun to peek into an organization’s communications and see what’s working and, of course, what could be working better.
Right now, I’m working with a non-profit in Raleigh and we’re developing their Key Messaging Guide. Does your organization have one of these? The idea is to ensure a consistent message across all communications. Prior to beginning any writing project (newsletters, brochures, website, videos, speaking engagements, etc), writers consult the Key Messaging Guide and include key words, phrases and concepts as it fits the project. By reinforcing the messages in all communications, you create a consistent and clear picture in the minds of your donors and the wider community.
Of course, you have to dig out those key messages and that’s the fun part. Quick surveys, relaxed (and often funny) brainstorming sessions, and building a word cloud are a good start. Aligning communication goals with organizational goals is less fun but helps make sure writers/communications folks are an extension of the organization they’re promoting and not wandering down any rabbit trails based on personal preference.
You’ll know your organization needs to create a Key Messaging Guide if you find your writers start from scratch each time they begin because there is no preexisting boilerplate, set of key messages, or style guide to inform writing; Your communication is a hodgepodge of mixed signals and there is no consistent set of imagery or messages communicated throughout all of your communication.
There are quite a few good books out there to help with this. OR you could just call me and let me help you. One I like is called Brandraising by Sarah Durham. She speaks specifically to non-profits and keeps her focus on practical concepts.
Here’s the word cloud we created from the three-question survey we sent out to staff, volunteers, and key donors. One look is a good reminder of key words to include. What would your key word cloud look like?