Structuring Your Messaging Playbook

This piece is excerpted from David Hlavac's article "How to Take a ‘Playbook’ Approach to Messaging: 7 Tips for a Winning Strategy" in the PR News Media Training Guidebook, Volume 6.

In order to make the most efficient use of the messaging playbook, it’s important to organize it effectively from the start. An example of a useful hierarchy might look like this:

General/brand (usually 3–5 messages)

Generalized company or brand messaging that conveys value to the industry or marketplace, followed by more detailed and utilitarian supporting messages that focus on the high-level value of a company or brand.

Business audience (usually 2–3 messages)

General messaging for investors, analysts or (in the case of B2B companies) customers offers a more detailed assessment of the topline messaging, which may include different pieces of the company value proposition depending on the audience.

Customer audience (usually 2–3 messages)

These messages should paint an overarching picture of the value customers derive from a business or brand. To put it another way, these are the words the company uses to communicate value to customers.

Products (usually 3–5 messages, depending on number of product lines)

General statements about specific products or product lines offered can extend throughout sales and marketing materials and offer all audiences a deeper look at product features, benefits and positioning.

Customer service and care (usually 2–3 messages)

This overview of a company’s customer service process and values can highlight unique advantages the company delivers to its customers, including warranty information, customer care access, etc.

Topical categories (usually 3–5 messages)

This section can outline specific product or service benefits that deserve a separate thematic grouping—for example, environmental accreditations, leadership expertise, technological advancements and industry trends, to name just a few.

Vertical markets (usually 2–3 messages per vertical)

Specialized messages for vertical market segments can help explain a company’s product or service benefits to a specific market or category, such as hospitals and health care organizations, banks and financial institutions, Fortune 100 companies or large private companies.

David Hlavac is group account director for the Business and Industry Group at Bellmont Partners. david@bellmontpartners.

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