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A media message is the information you want people to remember when they have either read your interview in the press, listened to you on a radio or podcast show or watched you on YouTube or TV. It’s a one-sentence statement that you want people to know about you — one that is interesting to a journalist and valuable to your audience. Media messages can also include a call-to-action in which the audience is asked to do something specific.
You have probably heard the saying, “failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” This is true when it comes to media exposure. The great thing about being prepared is that it will make you come across as confident, credible and professional. It will enable you to be clear, concise and get to the point without all the waffle. That’s why it’s good to come up with your media messages in advance.
Related: 4 Ways To Master Media Interviews (Even If You’ve Been Burned Before)
Let’s look at how to come up with great media messages in three easy steps.
Step 1: What messages do you want to talk about?
Ask yourself what points you would like to get across. What do you want the audience to remember? What do you want them to take away? If someone read, heard or watched your interview and were telling a friend about it, what would you like the person to say your interview was about? What key points would you like them to pass on and share with people? Write them down — these are your messages.
For example, a social media expert could come up with a story idea like, “How to increase Facebook engagement almost overnight.” One of the message points could be how business owners are leaving untapped revenue on the table by not engaging with their Facebook fans. Another message point could be how easy Facebook is to put on autopilot.
Step 2: What messages are important to a journalist?
Write down all the questions that you’re likely to be asked by a journalist. The key point to remember here is that your media points need to answer the basic questions that you’re likely to be asked.
Let’s say you’re a professional dog trainer. A dog attack, which seriously harmed a small child, has hit the news. Likely questions from a journalist are going to be “Why do dogs attack? What are the signs to look for when dogs are stressed and about to attack? What advice would you give to dog owners to stop their dogs from attacking? What advice could you give parents that will help keep their children safe around dogs?” You may be asked, “Why did this happen? How could it be avoided? What do you think the solution is to stop this from happening again?” Be prepared for a range of questions.
Related: 3 Ways to Get Free Publicity and Media Mentions for Your Business
Step 3: What messages are important to your audience?
Write down the questions your clients often ask you on whatever subject you are being interviewed about. For our Facebook expert example from above, it could be “What is the best time to post on Facebook?” Or “How frequently should I post on Facebook? Or “Are Facebook contests worth doing?”
Once you have gone through all the steps, you’re looking for the sweet spot. To find the sweet spot, picture a Venn diagram that has three circles overlapping. The first circle contains the messages that you would like to get across. The second circle contains the messages that are important to a journalist, and the third circle contains the messages that are important to your audience. The place where all three circles overlap — with the messages that are relevant to you, a journalist and your audience — is your sweet spot and contains the perfect media messages.
On average, when creating winning media messages, you are aiming for around seven sweet spot messages. Prioritize them. If the journalist would like some suggested questions from you, these are the questions that you would send to them.
From these sweet spot messages, focus on about three media messages per topic and interview so that each message is crystal clear, memorable and not diluted. The number of message points you’ll need is dependent on how big the article is or how much airtime you’ll have. If possible, ask the journalist in advance how big the piece is likely to be or how much airtime you’ll have so you can focus on the main points that you want to get across.
Related: 5 Steps to Help You Prepare for a Challenging Press Interview
PRO TIP: Each message should be something that can be said in about 10 seconds. It needs to be interesting, informative and to the point. Your answers to the questions that the journalist ask should back up and support your key messages wherever possible, and your aim is to tell the journalist your media messages, tell them again, and then tell them again in a different way. Ideally, you would start interviews with your key messages, return to them throughout and summarize with them at the end.
So now it’s your turn! I know it takes time and effort to do this, but trust me, it’s well worth it as it will have a direct impact on what is included in the interview and how many potential customers come looking for you. In my early days of being interviewed in the media, even national exposure resulted in little sales, and that was because I hadn’t prepared winning media messages.