The first step in our message process involves taking an internal look at the company or organization.
Knowing how you are currently portraying your organization and what you are saying will lead you to the reputation and image you have already created. You may find you’ll need to unravel, change or re-direct a perception that was self-created due to confusing or unclear messaging.
What messages do your materials send?
Audit your web site, printed materials, PowerPoint presentations, press coverage, even your e-mail messages sent to customers and other stakeholders. A few things to note include:
• What is the overall positioning being delivered?
• What are the top 5 main messages?
• What is the tag line (including the informal ones that seem to crop up in e-mails and PowerPoint presentations because a staff member just likes it)
What is the common thread amongst them? Are those the message you wish to send? What is clear or unclear? What is compelling and what is not? What differentiates you from your competitors and what does not? What speaks the truth? Where are you stretching it?
What message is your staff sending?
Secondly, identifying what your people believe is key. Why? They are sending a message – whether or not they know it – about who you are and what you stand for. If you don’t know what your own employees or partners are saying, then you know only half the story that is being told about your firm. Your own people have default language and a default elevator pitch. Find out what they are.
This self perception analysis should include interviewing staff, board members, committee chairs and key partners, investors, and other stakeholders.
Ask them the following (and more):
• What are the top three public perception challenges that your organization is facing? If these three viewpoints were changed, you would meet your goals and objectives. These barriers can relate to any of the organization’s functions or needs.
• Who do you believe is our organization’s primary target audience (include qualities or characteristics)?
• What do you believe is an untapped market for the organization?
• What do you believe our customers and clients are driven by?
• What do you think our customers and clients say about us when we are not in the room?
• What barrier needs to be removed to meet our customers’ needs?
• What qualities (e.g. creative, dedicated, etc.) would you assign to our organization?
• If you could tell a potential customer or client one thing about us, what would it be?
• What is your greatest concern about our reputation or image?