Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Preparing Key Messages for SpaceWalking Astronauts

Houston- we have a problem. Prepare for key messages.

At first rumblings that there’s a media issue on the horizon, Houston communications cranks out four pages of key messages It’s horribly inefficient and more importantly, ineffective. Especially when most communications Houstons don’t write key messages, they write laundry lists of facts. I was asked to sign off on one of these laundry lists this morning developed by a junior Houston.

She is a very good Houston, but had got into the habit of cranking out four-page lists to keep up appearances for the Astronauts.

I had to remind her that key messages are:

1. For internal use only

2. For use by company approved Astronauts or Houstons only i.e. people that have an understanding of the issue already to act as media spokespeople

3. For communicating an established organisational, strategic position.

For example: "We aim to find water on Mars by 2040".
Is a project fact

"I think humans will reach Mars, and I would like to see it happen in my lifetime". Buzz Aldrin
Is a project key message (that’s why it gets quoted-that’s what you want).
Three of four maximum. Not pages, messages.
If the astronauts are out spacewalking, they don’t have time to read four-page documents when Oprah rings for a chat. Keep it simple, understand the issues, and make sure you nail the biggies on the media call.

"I believe that every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises." Neil Armstrong. You and me both Neil.

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