Three Steps to Developing Key Messages

In the last delivery of my Media Relations in Dermatology series, I covered how to develop a media pitch. So now that you’ve landed a media interview about dermatology, you are probably wondering what’s next. Just like in job interviewing, the trick is to be prepared. Developing key messages helps you determine in advance the main message you want to communicate and its supporting facts. These are the messages you can use when answering the reporter’s questions.

Here are three steps to developing key messages:

Create your main statement.

If you could communicate a single message to the audience, what would that be? Determine whether your main message is one about prevention, diagnosis or treatment. While the reporter will likely ask you about all three aspects of a dermatology condition, know your focus. The clearer your focus, the more likely it will get across in the story.

Once you have your focus, hone it. The title of one of my favorite books from journalism school includes this message — Shorter, Sharper, Stronger. Analyze your main message. Look for ways to tighten it and make it more powerful. Avoid extra words that muddle up the message. Make sure each word counts.

Sample statements include:

  • Sunscreen is the most effective anti-aging product.
  • Everyone should check their skin for skin cancer.

Determine your 3 supporting facts.

While you may have lots of messages to support your key message, determine the three most powerful statements that support your key message.

Possible messages for dermatology conditions include:

  • Statistics that show the prevalence of the disease or condition, or the effectiveness of a particular treatment.
  • The effects of the condition, such as the impact to a person’s physical and emotional health.
  • Tips on how to prevent or manage the condition.

Always include a message that demonstrates how a dermatologist can help. This provides the audience with hope and highlights the specialty.

Check for jargon.

Prepare your messages as though you are speaking to a neighbor or the barista from your favorite coffee shop. Do not assume the reporter has a medical background or background in dermatology. Leave all medical jargon out of your messages. Remember, good media communication goes hand in hand with good patient communication. Therefore, if you are an effective communicator with your patients, then you will be an effective communicator with the media.

Creating key messages is just one aspect of interview preparation. In my next article, I will share additional tips for a successful interview.

Did you enjoy this post? Make sure to check previous part in this series below:

5 Ways Media Relations Can Help You Build Your Practice

When to Hire an Agency

6 Steps to Develop a Media List and Pitch