Selecting and using key messages in PR campaigns

Posted on: March 28th, 2012

In PR, key messages are used to communicate to the media the core points, benefits or aspects of a brand or product. They are the main aspects of the story you’re trying to tell about your brand and they are used in press releases, pitches and in conversations with journalists.

When setting key messages, remember that advertising tag lines or creative campaign messages often don’t translate to good editorial messages. Similarly, marketing talk is not what the media is looking for.  It’s best to take advertising and marketing language and convert it to plain English, in a factual, editorial style for the media to interpret in their own words. Simplicity and clarity is important. That means no superfluous adjectives, unsubstantiated claims or clever strap lines! For example:

  • ‘more bang for your buck’ becomes ‘more features and benefits at a lower cost’
  • ‘you’re in good hands’ becomes ‘reliable and trustworthy service’


Narrowing key messages down to a handful can be difficult.  Try distilling them from your elevator pitch (the one minute explanation of your offering), your product’s unique selling proposition (USP), or simply use the three things you would like a consumer to remember about your product.

We usually work with between two and six key messages for a client.  Some examples might include:

  • Family owned Australian business
  • Quality product with an innovative design
  • Comfortable to hold and easy to use
  • Leading product in the market
  • Award winning company


How many you should use depends on the scope of your campaign, however the more precise you can be the better, so you don’t dilute your message or confuse the media and ultimately, your audience.

Finally, it’s important to track key words and analyse the content in your PR reporting, otherwise you cannot determine what key messages are getting cut through or what the overall sentiment of the article is.  You might generate 100 clippings but if 80 percent contain a message that’s detrimental to your brand, then you have a slight issue to address!  Likewise, it’s interesting to track the messages that resonate with the media or have the most currency.

I hope that helps…

Posted by Renee Creer

There are no comments for this post.

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts