Once Is Never Enough

Like most good things in life, once is never enough. That's certainly true for getting your key message into the brain of your target audience.Like most good things in life, once is never enough. Once is certainly not enough to ensure that your well-crafted key message gets heard and absorbed.

It's not that people, including your target audience, are dumb or inattentive. They simply have a lot going on and are constantly bombarded by messages. Your message, as compelling as it may be, is just one more inbound missile of noise.

Repeating your words over and over might get the job done, but it also may set audiences to wondering whether you have lost your bearings. A better approach is what we call integrated communications.

Integrated communications is really just another name for having your messages reach people in a lot of different ways. The tobacco industry perfected the ability to surround people with a message, which is why you saw cigarette logos on billboards, in newspaper ads and on race cars. Because putting something that's on fire in your mouth and inhaling the smoke isn't natural, tobacco marketers worked overtime to show all kinds of people smoking in all kinds of places. They wanted smoking to seem the norm in society.

The principles of surrounding people with your message — and helping them put it into a familiar, personal context — is the heart and soul of integrated communications.

Many organizations and PR professionals wretch over word-smithing a statement when what they should be spending time on is thinking how to connect their message with an audience. Wording matters, but connecting is everything. You can have the most beautiful and functional website in the world, but if no one clicks on it, you have missed the boat.

The way to go is to develop an integrated communications strategy, which harnesses media relations, marketing outreach, social media, community relations and philanthropy in service of driving your message — and clicks on your website, so you can measure effectiveness and reach. This will give you multiple ways to make your point, without sounding like a stuck record. 

Repeating your key message, with a little variety in the wording, isn't a bad idea in a media interview or a speech. Saying it more than once, preferably from as many mountaintops as you can command, is the best way into the ear of your listener.