Developing and delivering key messages – Recap from our #CommsCamp Reputation webinar

Developing and delivering key messages – Recap from our #CommsCamp Reputation webinar

With Muckle Media, Managing Director Nathalie Agnew and guest speaker, STV Journalist Rona Dougall.

Our third #CommsCamp webinar series focused around ‘reputation’ and explored the development of key messages to help shape and manage the image the reputation of your organisation. In this session, Nathalie shared her top eight tips for handling media interviews. We also found out why this week’s guest speaker, Rona Dougall, was told she would never be allowed to interview Donald Trump again!

Review your key messages regularly

Your spokesperson should be delivering key messages at every media opportunity. Some comms teams will be far progressed with this and if you work for a larger organisation you might already know your key messages and have a ‘message house’ in place. Nathalie believes the most messages you ever need are five messages, but, if you can distil it down to three all the better. The less messages you have the easier it is for your spokespeople to remember and consistently deliver them. Our worksheets have some great starting tips for developing key messages.

As we’ve mentioned throughout our #CommsCamp series, things in the world have changed a lot recently so it may be the case that your key messages are no longer relevant. It is important to revisit your key messages regularly to ensure they support your strategy. Some starting questions to consider are; What do you do that no one else does? What is your differentiator? If you were on TV talking about your brand, what one thing would you want people to take away?

Once your key messages are in place you can start to prepare your spokespeople to deliver them.

Prepare but don’t over prepare

Media interviews should be done with a clear purpose and because there’s something that can be gained from completing the interview so a call to action can be a good key message for media interview. Nathalie recommends using briefing sheets for prep stating the opportunity, why you’re speaking to the audience and what you want to gain.

Rona explains that a journalist’s nightmare is someone ‘defensive or evasive and that gives really long or short answers’. A pet peeve of Rona’s is also spokespeople not being available, when putting out news announcements it’s important that you have someone prepared in the event of a media opportunity.

Although this may be something Rona disagrees with, as she likes a straight talker, we recommend not just answering the question but ensuring you are also sharing something you want to share. Henry Kissinger would open press conferences by asking ‘Do you have any questions for my answers?’ as he already knew exactly what he wanted to say.

Rona added ‘it’s crucial to prepare your spokespeople for coming on tv, have deep thoughts on what it is you want to say, why you’re on the programme and what is your key messaging’.

Nathalie recommends thinking of key messages as ‘rocks’ and that you should throw three ‘rocks’ per interview to get your message across.

Interesting people with interesting stories

Rona loves interviewing interesting people from authors to feisty politicians and actually interviewed Donald Trump before he became president. Unfortunately, the US President wasn’t to forthcoming about discussing his golf course and demanded to never interviewed by her again, a story Rona wears with a badge of pride.

Being warm and approachable goes a long way in making the brand look appealing. Rona explains other factor that make for a good spokesperson are ‘some with enthusiasm for their brand, concise and articulate’.

Although less people are visiting the studios, Rona has found that people are more available for online calls via Skype or Zoom ‘it’s much easier to get a hold of guests and the audience are much more forgiving about the quality of the interview due to the current circumstances’.

Use your spokespeople to your best advantage

You should be confident that your messages will work across a number of channels, so review or create a set of key messages that can be applied to lots of scenarios. Look at developing a spokesperson grid and getting input from your colleagues on who should be the spokesperson for what topics and channels. And lastly, consider media training as it is important for your spokespeople to have a basic level of awareness and now is a great time to be doing it with everyone at home.

At Muckle Media, we offer full day media training courses to help prepare your organisation for a full range of scenarios and give practical experience. For people regularly in the media, we recommend doing a ‘media refresher’ every 12 months to test positive things coming up but also potential crises. And as Rona concluded ‘Try relax and enjoy yourself, remember it’s a great opportunity for you to push your brand’.

#CommsCamp runs every Thursday 09:30 – 10:30 via Facebook Live with live updates on Twitter.

If you missed the reputation session you can view it back here:

For more information regarding our media training courses, please email