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PR Planning: Key Messages

Note: This post was originally published at and was moved to BizAmmo upon that blog’s reorganization

After you determine your key public(s) or target audience(s) for your PR campaign plan, you need to establish your key message(s). You should have a key message pertaining to each of your key publics, although there may be some overlap. So what is a key message, and why is it important?Your key message is essentially what you want your audience to “take away” from your campaign. It’s what you’ll use to relate to them, appeal to them, and/or call them to action. You may very well be trying to get a slightly different reaction from each of your target audiences, and that’s why you may have multiple key messages for your public relations campaign.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say that you’re a small nonprofit organization in a low-income area of a city. Many people would benefit from your services, but they don’t seem to know that your organization exists. At the same time, potential donors or volunteers also don’t know that you exist. Your general goal would be to raise awareness. However, you already have two distinct key publics:

  • Community members who could benefit from your services
  • Community members who have the ability to support your organization

Your PR plan needs to address a key message to both of these target audiences.

For the first key public, your message might be something like:

  • Our organization understands your situation, cares about improving it, and exists to help you. We provide free or low-cost options that will fulfill your needs (which would vary depending on the organization), we’re located right in the heart of the community, and we want you to come to us and fully take advantage of the services or aid that we offer.

For the second sample key public, your message should remain similar, but should also address the needs of the particular audience. For example:

  • Our organization understands local hardships, cares about improving them, and we are aiming to improve the situation, which would better the community for you and your family. We need your help to improve things, in the way of donations of either time or money. You can be an active force in cleaning up poverty (just as an example… substitute any social issue there) in our community to make this a better place for current and future generations. (You’re telling them you exist, what you want from them, and showing that it can potentially benefit them and their families in the process.)

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