Are Your Messages Right for Right Now?

Times are changing—rapidly! Are your messages keeping up?

The echoes of COVID-19 still linger, the ongoing nationwide reckoning with racism pushes forward, and American politics invite weekly whiplash. Not to mention the number of people changing jobs and cities, resulting in organizational changes whether you want them or not.

No matter your organization’s mission, the lasting impact of these global and nationwide shifts requires that you rethink your messaging to be truly relevant. Even if your message is that you are business as usual, think carefully about why, what, how, where, and when you’re sharing your message.

Ask yourself these four questions to make sure your organization’s messaging is timely, relevant, and right for right now.

1. What do our audiences need from us at this moment?

As a part of our brand work with clients, we help them develop personas for their key audiences. With each of these personas, we work together to craft lively characters to articulate what they value, and the emotional and functional benefits that person receives when engaging with the organization.

But amidst challenges and transition, those needs may change. So take a look at the audience personas your brand was designed to delight. Who are they? Have their motivations changed because of current circumstances (theirs or yours)? How can your messaging and stories adapt to address these changes?

View your messages through the lens of what your audiences need to hear, not just what you want to say. And while all of your key audiences are important, determine which of them you must inspire, reassure, and embolden at this precise moment.

2. Does our messaging fit into today’s discourse?

When you hear an ambulance behind you in traffic, what do you do? You get out of the way for the good of those who need the space. The same thing must be true for your messaging. Before scheduling your next communication, ask yourself whether that message serves your community or blocks traffic for more important or timely discourse. If you’re planning to send an email about your costume party fundraiser the day after a tragedy in your town, or one that is holding national attention, consider the right timing and reframe. You might need to pause your normal content routine to focus on what needs to be said at the moment—or say nothing at all to allow space for others.

There might also be some messages you need to filter to meet the moment. You may have old messages you simply wouldn’t write today. So scan your website and key communications and edit out the messages and themes that you now understand to be outdated, inconsiderate, or offensive.

As always, make sure you focus on the challenges, opportunities, and benefits of your work—your “why,” rather than the details of what you do. WHY is always more compelling than WHAT. If you need help with this, follow our Minute Message Model to craft more compelling messages.

3. How can we leverage our organization’s values in this new era?

Today, it is more important than ever to remind your audiences of who you are and what you value.

Most organizations will find that they end up listing between 4-8 things that they value. Today’s reality calls instead for focusing on the values that are most relevant now to your community (and make sure your values are active!).

Once you’ve refocused on your most relevant values, communicate and mention them explicitly—and often–in your messaging: “Because we value X we are doing Y.” And the more you share, live, and demonstrate your values in action, the more your audiences, who share those values, will engage.

4. How does our brand guide our actions?

The fundamental role of setting a brand strategy is to have clarity about who you are as an organization so you can project that clearly, consistently, and powerfully. Your brand is your reputation and should guide how you look, how you sound, how you act, and what you do in good times, as well as bad. Your supporters want the reassurance that you are still you, and that your work is meeting the realities of today. So show them your true colors, and how you’re meeting the needs of these times with your own unique and on-brand flair.