Beyond key messages in media relations

I am a strong believer is the use of key messages to guide people preparing for media interviews.

But to really convince a media audience, especially on live radio or television, you need to be able to quote some meaty examples.

This morning, for instance, I drove into work listening to a Government minister being interviewed on the radio. The minister was explaining why she wouldn't sign an agreement with the Commonwealth to adopt a nationwide funding model to deliver services in her portfolio.

She was doing well keeping to the key messages: reiterating the principles of the state-based system centred around choice and local decision making.  But it didn't convince me simply because there were no examples of the impact on real human beings.  If she had cited some examples, I might have been convinced.  Tell me about Carol who lives in East Perth and currently has 100% control over whether the Government payments she receives are directed towards her health care needs as opposed to education.  Then explain that under the Commonwealth system, Carol – who is 75 - would have no choice and the money she actually wants for health would be split 50/50 with education – meaning she'd lose the ability to genuinely manage her own affairs.  Not to mention that, at 75, health is much more of a priority than getting a degree!

All of a sudden, after listening to these examples, I am convinced.  The Minister has gone beyond a reiteration of key messages and brought the issue to life in a way I can understand. I have empathy for Carol, I have empathy for the Minister – I understand the reason behind her decision.

I hear this a lot in media interviews and it teaches a valuable lesson: Key messages are great but often they are not enough.  Citing case studies and actual examples can make your media interviews so much more effective and help you win your case in the court of public opinion.