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Message Development 101

Developing and communicating an effective message is not easy. That being said, I have always found three questions to be extremely useful in the identification and development of a message:

1. What am I/are we trying to accomplish?

2. Who cares? (Who is my/our audience?)

3. Why should they/do they care?

Answer those three questions and while you won’t have the complete message, but you will be well on your way to developing an effective message.  

What is the biggest danger to any message? ( I would call it "message kryptonite")

Confusion. If the message you send is confusing, mixed, is contradictory or even worse hypocritical (do as I say not as I do) your message is doomed.

The number one or two issue in Washington this week?  Healthcare reform. 

From a message development perspective, "Legislative Washington" is trying to garner support for healthcare reform (What are you trying to accomplish?); every American is the audience (Who cares?); because we want ourselves, our families, our friends and our neighbors to live long, healthy prosperous lives(with the hope that you will weigh in with your elected representative (Why should we care?);

After years of established medical protocol, in one week women have been informed that a) mammogram screening does not have to occur until age 50 b) cervical cancer screenings should occur less often and begin later and c) that pap smears don’t need to begin until age 21. 

I can tell you that as a grandson, son, brother, husband and uncle, all of this has led to one thing — confusion, and lots of it.  Where were the major press conferences to fully explain what this meant?  The websites so that any woman, regardless of age or education level, could understand what this meant, and why it happened now?  The simple, concrete, compelling message that anyone and everyone could understand?

At the same time, H1N1 (or swine flu) now shows signs that it may have peaked.  This is good news, and hopefully true, because after every American had been told about the dangers of H1N1, every American was then informed that there wasn’t enough vaccine to go around.   Another messaging disaster.

There is a major disconnect in Washington today, and it all boils down to poor message development. Sad.