One of the first things a reporter asks in an interview is for a description of what your business does. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, sadly, for many it’s not as easy as it sounds. It should be, but more often than you’d think, it’s not.
In my opinion, the reason is simple. People think it’s so easy to explain what they do that they don’t actually take the time to think about it beforehand to know how they’ll describe what they do when the opportunity presents itself. I once had a job recruiter tell me that something like 70-80 percent of job applicants blow the interview with the first interview question. The first question in a job interview is similar to a media interview, tell me about yourself. It should be easy enough, right? But think about it. If I asked you right now to tell me about yourself, could you describe yourself with something intelligent that accurately portrays who you are?
Now, if I asked you to tell me about your business, could you? Could you tell me in one sentence or a couple sentences what you do in a way that I would instantly get what your business does?
If you can, congratulations, you’re among the elite. I’m basing this off of years of experience and of helping clients identify their key messages and an accurate elevator pitch that concisely describes what they do.
Many companies don’t know or can’t communicate effectively what they do. It’s also fairly common for teams to be on different pages as to what it is that their company does. The result of this inability to describe what they do or the confusion created because they’re on different pages results in a mixed message. When enough mixed messages are disseminated through the media it makes a company look bad, unorganized and unsure of what they do.
It’s important to decide what are the most important messages you want to convey. From a PR perspective, what does the reporter need to know in order to understand what your company does or the benefits your product or service provides.
Media messaging and positioning creates a communications platform that will drive all communications from the company for each segment including industry thought leadership and expertise. It helps decide key target audiences, and overall corporate position. It is incorporated into content creation, media relations and editorial support, the company website, the company blog and social media.
This is where a good PR person or team comes in. The words don’t always have to be the same, but the overall message should be consistent and accurate. Listed below are four key elements to focus on when determining your company’s message.
- Elevator pitch: In 25-50 words what does your business do? This description should be clear and concise and free of any hyperbole or jargon. The person hearing this should be able to have a clear understanding of what your company does and the value you add.
- Supporting messages: These messages support the elevator pitch. Supporting messages can be more descriptive and add more context to the main message conveyed in your elevator pitch. These messages will provide more insight into the value of your product or services as well as key things you want others to know about your business and what you do. These messages can and should be broken up by vertical markets if you serve more than one industry or market.
- Tagline: A tagline is something that can be easily remembered and that when heard conveys a positive message about your business. A tagline is typically only a few words but can convey a powerful message and be an influential association with your businesses brand. It should be clear and concise and match up with your overall message and elevator pitch.
- Competitors: Everybody has a competitor or at least somebody that does something similar to you. Clients say all the time, “We don’t have any competitors. We’re so unique or do things so different that there aren’t any competitors.” If a reporter thinks you are similar to another company or your product or service is similar to another they’re familiar with then you have a competitor. It’s important to know who your competitors are and what separates you from them. In developing messaging for your company you should identify competitors and the things that differentiate you from them.
Having a clear and concise message will help prepare for media interviews and will allow you to have something to fall back on so when you are asked and nerves kick in, you know exactly how to respond. It’s important to know the messaging and how to effectively communicate it. It doesn’t mean you have to repeat the words verbatim and sound robotic, but it’s important to communicate the right message.
When a company has a clear, concise and streamlined message that clearly tells what the company does consumers, clients and potential partners don’t have to waste valuable time trying to decipher and understand what you do. They can simply make their decision to purchase or become a client.
Author: Jeremy Kartchner | Google+