By Mimi Kalinda

“There’s a simple rule: You say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and then again and again and again and again, and about the time that you’re absolutely sick of saying it is about the time that your target audience has heard it for the first time.” — Frank Luntz.

The above quote is an excellent example of the concept of “Effective Frequency” in advertising. The Effective Frequency principle emphasizes the need for repetition to get brand messaging to “land” with audiences. Basically, it means that an ad or message needs to be seen multiple times before a consumer will (a) notice it, and (b) respond favourably to it. The same applies to public relations (PR) and brand communication in general. But here’s where it gets tricky: while your brand may follow this technique by using multiple audience touch-points and high message frequency, how do you know that the message you are sending out is the right message for your brand? Or, if you have multiple different communication content being sent out concurrently, is messaging still effective if it is inconsistent? Effective communication is closely tied both to consistency and frequency. The best results are achieved when there is a repetition of a key brand message which is based on primary brand goals.

The starting point to a communication strategy is to first build a key messaging framework that acts as a blueprint, informing all communication activity. Key message development works best as an interactive workshop with all the relevant people in one room (physically or remotely), including senior executives, the marketing team, the business development team, customer service managers and so forth. That way, all key role players have a say, and in the end, everyone is aligned. Some of the key concepts that are addressed in a messaging workshop include:

  • Brand language and tonality, which ties in closely with brand identity.
  • The brand’s key audiences and the desired positioning of the brand to these audiences, as well as the broader public landscape.
  • A company’s ethos and values, its “big picture” goals and business objectives.
  • Talking points for spokespeople and content creation.
  • The language and approach to be used to communicate “who we are”, “what we do”, “why it matters”, “what our impact is and why you should care” and calls to action for a brand.
  • Tools for senior staff developing internal communication, executives dealing with the media or spokespeople representing the brand at events and speaking engagements

The outcome of a key messaging workshop is a master language document that will guide and inform communications activities by all internal and external stakeholders and across all platforms. This facilitates communicating in a consistent and unified brand voice and expediates concise and effective messaging to drive core brand goals. From a productivity perspective, having a pre-approved “handbook”, such as a key messaging document, streamlines processes for more efficient operational functioning. It reduces the need for lengthy discussions and approval procedures for regular tasks such as social media activities and marketing campaigns.

From an internal perspective, a key messaging workshop promotes an integrated, collaborative and cohesive approach to all business activities – not just the marketing aspect. While some companies believe that employees are already familiar with all the above, it is surprising how many different responses and perspectives are received from staff members within the same organization.

Once a key messaging document has been developed and approved, it must be followed consistently by all involved in brand communication. However, it should also be reviewed after a certain period of time (the length of which varies from one brand to another), or if there is a fundamental shift in organizational goals and objectives. Changing industry and market landscapes also may necessitate a review to ensure that key messages evolve along with consumer demands.

Key message development is the foundation of strategy development – for communication in particular, but also more effective business practices that lead to improved customer experience levels. It is an exercise that will result in the brand communicating in “one voice”, across various channels and audience groups. This will result in Effective Frequency that will attract audience attention and a positive response

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