Your Work is Too Important to Have an Unclear Message
The four most critical parts of your message to clarify
Whatever it is you do, you wouldn’t do it if it weren’t important, right? The long hours, the stress, the pre-occupation; in the long run, you know it’s worth it because the work is important. It’s too important, in fact, to have an unclear message.
If your message isn’t crystal clear to those most important to your success—inside and out of your organization—it’s holding you back. It’s keeping you from:
- Attracting and retaining the best talent
- New donors or customers
- Media attention
- Greater efficiency and focus
- New opportunities
“Having your organization's personality woven into your message is the only way to come across as authentic, believable, and worthy.”
“Having your organization’s personality woven into your message is the only way to come across as authentic, believable, and worthy.”
Unless you’re confident that you’re reaping the rewards of all six, here are the four most critical parts of your message you must clarify:
Six Excuses for Ignoring Your Messaging Strategy
Many leaders know, deep down, they need to update their messaging, but they are, nonetheless, held back. Here are some of the common misperceptions that keep people from moving forward:
- We don’t have the budget. Fiscal discipline is important, no doubt. However, not investing in your message is like not getting regular check-ups, not putting oil in your car, or hoping that bills will just pay themselves.
- We can do it ourselves. How hard can it be? It’s not a matter of being easy or difficult; it’s a matter of having the right perspective. Those trees are hard to see if you’re staring a bark.
- We need to focus on the work, not the message. Your message is your work. Not only does it create more believers, but it also keeps you focused on what you do best and is needed most.
- People get it. But do they? To find out, ask five people in your organization if they can talk about what you do. You’re off to a good start if they all answer confidently and consistently. Then, share your message with five people not associated with your work. If they want to learn more immediately, you’re right. People probably do get it.
- Change is constant. It will be out of date before we’re done. You’re right! Change is constant, but a Focus & Messaging Framework can help you craft a message that changes with you and your world.
- It sounds exhausting. It certainly can be. But with the right guidance, the process and the end result can be exhilarating! (We have proof.)
When Should You Take a Stand?
In January of 2021, Douglas Spencer penned a blog post about when organizations should take a stand on political issues. We think it’s worth repeating. Here are the highlights:
- Is the topic relevant to what you do? Staying close to home when it comes to commenting on a topic is essential for a few reasons, not the least of which is maintaining your focus. However, if there is a compelling reason to speak out about something seemingly irrelevant to your mission, be sure to point that out in the process.
- Will it bolster or hinder your work? If speaking out will jeopardize your ability to affect positive change, consider staying out of the conversation. (However, see point #4 before making a decision.)
- Do you have the moral authority to say something? Before you talk “the talk,” make certain you are “walking the walk.” (See The Reasons Behind Corporate Social Responsibility Messaging for a clear examples of what we mean.)
- What does not saying anything say? All that said, it’s important to remember that saying nothing is also saying something. What message is your silence sending?
As Benjamin Franklin said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
Spencer Brenneman unequivocally supports full access to both comprehensive reproductive healthcare and gender-affirming healthcare.
In this recurring feature of Focal Point, we profile people and organizations on a mission! If you have someone to suggest, let us know! This month, we’re featuring our client, EdVestors.
Edvestors is a school improvement organization that combines strategic grantmaking, content expertise, and collaborative implementation to drive system-level impact in Boston schools. Since 2002, Edvestors has raised and invested $36 million in school improvement efforts.
Edvestors drives toward their mission by activating people and resources, learning and iterating in context, and influencing system change. They believe that continuously attending to all three of these drivers ensures their activities will create impact.
Earlier this year, Spencer Brenneman helped EdVestors develop their messaging strategy for their 20th Anniversary as well as create a logo for the celebrations.
For more information, visit edvestors.org.
MESSAGING ON A MISSION
Listen Up: New Episodes Available!
Check out our two episodes of Messaging on a Mission from June! From grassroots messaging to the tech behind targeting, there’s a lot of good information waiting for you!
If you or your organization have a story to share about how your message impacts your work, don’t be shy! Let us know! We’re always looking for new guests.
"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world."
— Robin Williams
Born in July 1951, Robin Williams was an American actor and comedian. Known for his improvisational skills and the wide variety of characters he created on the spur of the moment and portrayed on film, in dramas, and in comedies alike, he is regarded as one of the greatest comedians of all time. Williams began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles during the mid-1970s and rose to fame playing the alien Mork in the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy (1978–1982). He was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting. He also received two Primetime Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five Grammy Awards.
On August 11, 2014, at age 63, Williams died by suicide at his home in Paradise Cay, California.