Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > What are the messages you want your group to convey?

What are the messages you want your group to convey?


Your group will always have messages it wishes to get across through marketing and promotion.

Be it something as straight-forward as telling people the reasons driving your latest fundraiser, or communicating more deeply the overall motivations of your group, knowing what messages you want to convey is vital.

Your group needs to make sure it can clearly and quickly identify the messages it wants to convey through marketing - either in the media or outside it - before it tries to get them across to its audience.



General and Specific Messages

The messages your group might want to convey can be separated into two types - general and specific.

General messages can be classified as those which you want to convey most of the time.

They most likely relate to your group or organisation's underlying themes, motivations, values and attitudes.

For example - the general messages a community-based sporting club might want to convey could relate to:
  • Participation in sport.
  • Physical fitness and fun.
  • Teamwork.
  • Fair play and sportsmanship.
Specific messages, on the other hand, are those messages you wish to convey that are directly related to a certain situation, activity, occasion or event relevant to your group or organisation.

Using the sporting club example again, some different types of specific messages could be:
  • A "join up now" or "buy a membership" message if on a membership drive or before the start of the season.
  • An announcement on funding for a new development at the club's home ground, or the opening of such a facility.
  • A response to planned rule or law changes affecting your club.
  • An announcement of other special club activities - club camps, best and fairest award nights, annual raffles, etc.
It is important to remember that while these two "message categories" are different, they are also related to each other.

In many cases, your specific messages will be based on elements of your group's general messages - their themes, attitudes and aims.

For example, your sporting club might want to make its membership drive or recruitment campaign (a specific message) more attractive by emphasising its general messages of fair play, teamwork and participation.


Knowing the messages you want to convey

Rushing headlong into a marketing effort without being clear of the messages you will be trying to convey is a far from ideal.

Instead, your community group or not-for-profit needs to be able to determine those messages before it hits the media, designs the flyers or compiles its news release.


Conveying general messages

When your group is looking to convey a general message, it should be relatively simple to determine what that message should be.

As stated earlier in this help sheet, your general messages most likely relate to your group's underlying themes, motivations, values and attitudes.

To focus on your group's key general messages, members of your group may have to hold a brainstorming session or a meeting of key personnel.

Some of the aspects of your group that go towards what its "key messages" are could include:
  • Your activities, what it does and why.
  • Your beliefs, stances or philosophies.
  • Your aims - what your group is striving to do or be.
Once these general themes or messages are clear, your group needs to make sure they are included in as many of your communications as possible - through any slogans or logos, in your letterhead, in a statement on your website or in your office, in any press releases or public stances your group takes, etc.

These general messages also need to be kept in mind and conveyed when you are trying to communicate a more specific message.


Conveying a specific message

When conveying a specific message, it is important you do so in a way which:
Firstly, effectively markets the specific message or information you want to get out, and.
Links effectively to your key general messages and is in harmony with them so that everything is in harmony.

To do this, your group needs to - first and foremost - make sure it knows its general messages.

If you don't know them, or feel your group is unsure of them or has even lost focus on them - now's the time to step back and refocus!

Without being able to identify and quickly encapsulate your group's general messages, the marketing of your specific messages may end up less effective or not in harmony with your group's "bigger picture".

Once those general messages are clear, your group then needs to focus on the specific message you want to communicate.

Your group may already have set out some processes which it works through when looking to market something or convey a message.

For example, those processes may work through:
  • Your existing media team coming up with ways to convey your messages,
  • The leadership of your group deciding and "signing off" on messages it wants to get across, or.
  • A combination of both.
On the other hand, working through how your group is going to convey its specific messages can be as simple as progressing through the basic steps of WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW.
  • WHAT is the specific message you are trying to convey? (For example - you group's annual fundraising raffle or a successful funding application.)
  • WHO are you trying to convey it to? (To current members, supporters or donors, to past "contacts or to possible new "contacts"?)
  • WHY are you conveying this message? (To encourage, advocate, recruit, gain support, raise funds, raise awareness, etc).
  • WHEN do you wish to communicate this message (Is there a specific timeline you are working to? Are there deadlines for your message, or is it news that has to be conveyed quickly for it to be meaningful?)
  • WHERE/HOW are you going to convey this message (in the newspapers, other media - local, state or national - through free notices, flyers, posters, billboards, stalls).
    • This question should be looked at in conjunction with the "WHO are you conveying it to" question, as there might be specific communications methods needed in order to reach your target audience.
By working through these steps, your group or organisation should be able to work out the best way to convey your specific message - a way which not only reaches your target audience, but which also is a "good fit" with your group's general message.


A word on interviews

If your group is lucky enough to be involved in an interview for newspapers, TV or radio, it is especially important you convey your message in a concise and accurate way.

The importance of getting your message across quickly and concisely is amplified when working through the media; given the limited time or space they set aside for any single story.

It is not uncommon for only one statement (or sound bite) from an entire 10 minute interview to be aired on television or radio. Similarly for newspapers, a single statement (or quote) might be drawn from a longer interview and used in the report involving your group.

If that is the case, this is where it is vital to have the message (or messages) you wish to convey ready to go in the form of a tasty sound bite or quotable quote.

For more information on this aspect of getting your message across, refer to the help sheets Why Sound Bites are Important, Creating a Tasty Sound Bite and Ensuring You Get Your Message Across at the Marketing, Media & Marketing Centre on the Our Community website.


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