Strategic communication

Phase 2: Design your messages and means

Design your messages

Step 1: Design the key message

The key message describes the essence of your sub goal. Your key message tells what you are doing and why you are doing it. All other messages should be in harmony with the key message. Tips:

  • Focus on the essential element of your mission
  • Be brief and use simple wording
  • Highlight the positive but be honest

Step 2: Design messages for each target audience and stakeholder

A message for everyone, is heard by no one. You need to tailor the message to the knowledge, attitude and behavior of each target group. Uses words that are easy to understand and that connect with the values, norms and language of the target audience. Check if the messages are consistent with your mission and with your key message.

Step 3: Pre-test your messages

This way you prevent misunderstanding or lack of clarity before your messages have been printed and distributed widely. As the message is closely linked with the means, it is a good idea to use the intended means as well. Present your message to members of your target audiences & stakeholder and check:

  • Is the message understood?
  • Is the message accepted and agreed?
  • Does the tone of voice appeal?
  • Does the message work?

Frog leap!

Now you have a set of field tested messages tailored to each stakeholder and target audience. It’s time to design your means!

Download the tool Designing your messages and make the jump

Design your means

Step 1:  Design your means for the Understanding phase

Use two-way and face-to-face communication to understand your audiences and stakeholders. This is most effective. Informal talks and interviews combined with focus groups is often a good recipe.

Leave your office and go out into the field and into the offices, kitchens and pubs were your target audiences and stakeholders are. Observation is also a great means to understand.

Another tip: listen, listen and listen. Be open. Be curious. Don’t push your own agenda during this step. Don’t send your messages yet.

Step 2: Using means for your Designing phase

Involve stakeholders and get them to cooperate by using two-way communication as well. Start a dialogue with round tables & meetings. Mix these means with face-to-face, one on one communication to persuade and engage key decision makers. Turn owners of the problem into owners of the solution.

This is aimed at generating and selecting ideas for supporting interventions. Stakeholders know best which solutions fail and which solutions work. They will come up with a package of interventions you could never have thought of yourself.

Design the supporting interventions together with your partners: select ways to get the money you need, develop rules & control to influence behavior and design the infrastructure your need to make ‘new’ behavior more attractive and ‘old & wrong behavior’ less attractive or impossible.

Step 3: Design your communication means for the Execution phase

Design the communication means aimed at influencing knowledge, attitudes and behavior with tailored messages for your target audiences.

  • For each audience, list the means that reach them.
  • Rank the credibility of each means.
  • Rank the effectiveness of each means. This depends mainly on your objectives and the target audiences characteristics. You need good judgment, experience and communication expertise to make a good choice. Your choice also depends on available budget of course!

Frog leap!

Now you designed your strategy, message and means. It’s time to execute!