• key messages

last modified March 30, 2017 by strypey

Key messages are concept in PR (Public Relations) theory, developed for use in advertising and other marketing, and later adapted for use in other situations where companies and other organisations, including political parties, are trying to persuade the public through media campaigns. The technique involves reducing what you want to convince people of down to a set of one-sentence soundbites, usually 3-5 of them, and making sure those sentences are repeated to the public as often as possible. Everyone involved in the persuasion campaign must stick to the key messages, placing them in TV ads, spouting them into interviews, posting them as social media comments, and so on. The political use of this style of key messages PR is explored in some detail in the book 'The Hollow Men', released in 2006 by kiwi investigative journalist Nicky Hagar , and used by Alistair Barry's company Vanguard Films as the basis for their documentary of the same name. Chapter 10 'The Manipulators' gives examples of the use of key messages in political spin by officials of the NZ National Party.

By the time Hagar published his book, business strategy books like 'The Cluetrain Manifesto' (1999) had been making the case for some time that, as a blog piece on the Solo PR Pro website put it, "robotic-sounding politicians and executives, saying the same words over and over again, had grown annoying and old-fashioned to an increasingly sophisticated public". Key messages are still being used in the same unsophisticated way by some, particularly in the political realm, but according to the blogger on Solo PR Pro, "now the vast majority of those earning a living crafting and communicating key messages knows: customized and situation-appropriate conversational language is a requirement."