Most organisations have ‘corporate messaging’ or ‘key messages’ as part of an effective communication plan.
They’re designed to keep everyone on-track during media interviews.
Or to help embolden an idea during a big speech.
To embed a culture internally.
They’re a vehicle to help effective communication; to take you where you want to go.
A life-raft if you’re ever in trouble during a TV or radio interview.
Yet in our experience, key messages often sink without trace.
Often it’s because corporate key messaging feels less like a life-raft and more like a straight-jacket.
An impersonable, off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all approach.
Effective communication in the workplace starts with original thought.
Here’s how to bring the personality back into corporate messaging.
In 2014, an RBS insurance broker visited the house of a recently-married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone.
They discussed life insurance options, before agreeing a plan, to be signed and returned.
Tragically, a week later the husband died unexpectedly a week later, before the papers were signed.
Leaving his wife with the prospect of paying off the mortgage single-handedly, whilst burdened by the loss of her husband.
RBS decided to honour the agreement, as they believed that the intent was there to sign the documents.
The bank had talked for year about ‘doing the right thing’, as a way of regaining customer trust.
While the bank refused to exact PR mileage from a tragic story, the account was promoted internally as an example of how to rebuild customer trust.
Health and Safety is notoriously dry.
There’s a practical reason for that: you’re either safe, or you’re in danger.
So best to stay safe, using legal terminology that satisfied your obligations.
So the outside world knows you’re taking it seriously.
‘Accident-free for 30 years’.
‘Taking health and safety seriously’.
‘World-leading safety systems’.
But what if your audience is internal?
In 2012, Babcock Engineering realised it was facing a recruitment-retention problem.
Like its competitors, it was struggling to recruit highly-skilled engineers, and was losing employees overseas.
With an impeccable safety record, something they were keen to let prospective employees know that their health and safety was the priority.
They settled on ‘home safe every day’.
If you see that on the gates as you walk in, you know what you’re getting.
Now it’s time to get personal.
As well as telling stories and putting you audience at the heart of the message, you need to sound like you.
If you’re a straight-talker, then talk straight.
If you’re an ideas person, start with the idea and come to the slogan later.
You have to find your style.
And see the key messages as a life-raft to help you float, rather than a straight-jacket.
For example, the following phrases can be tailored:
“Furthering innovation through partnership working”
“We work with others to create new ideas”.
It’s simpler and more you.
“Utilising revolutionary technologies to futureproof our industry”
“We care about our industry, and we use technology to protect it”.
Each of these phrases uses the first person to create an action:
“we work…we create…we care…we use…”
It’s followed up by a simpler alternative.
Corporate messages should be flexible to allow for individual personalities.
So use yours.
Bring the text from the website to your media interviews, presentations and speaking opportunities.
Andrew McFarlan is the Managing Director of Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.
You can view his full profile here.
Photos by Pexels.
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