Developing and Using Key Messages

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. Overview. This session will cover how to: . Develop key messages. Tailor messaging for every situation. Test messages with targeted audiences. Deliver your messages. . What are Key Messages?. ID: 341284 Download Presentation

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Developing and Using Key Messages

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Developing and Using Key Messages



This session will cover how to:

Develop key messages

Tailor messaging for every situation

Test messages with targeted audiences

Deliver your messages


What are Key Messages?

Key messages explain your study or research in simple, clear language that spurs interest in your work.

They should be:


Easy to understand Focused Relevant Nonjudgmental


The Importance of Key Messages

Prepared messages help you remain consistent and organized when speaking

with the media and stakeholders.

Simple, well-developed messages will resonate with non-scientific audiences.A message framed in terms of study benefits is often helpful:

“Our study is testing whether doctors in remote regions can safely use a simpler, less-expensive blood test to monitor the well-being of patients who are taking potent anti-HIV drugs. If so, we could ensure that more people have access to these life-saving drugs.”


Developing Key Messages

What do you need to communicate?

Why are you conducting a study? Who might benefit?

What questions or concerns will your audience have?

How is your study unique?What are the three or four most important points you want to convey to your audiences?Create short sentences free of jargon.Use active voice rather than passive voice.

“We are conducting a research study to see if taking a pill every day can safely protect women against HIV infection.”


Creating Supporting Messages

Each key message should have a list of supporting messages.

Supporting messages can use facts and examples to reinforce the principle messages. Sophistication and detail will vary by audience.

Key Message:

“We are conducting a study to see if taking a pill every day can safely protect women against HIV infection.”

Supporting Message:

“The pill, called oral tenofovir or TDF, is currently being used to treat people already infected with HIV.”


Tailoring your Key Messages

Each audience should receive the message in the form that will best resonate with its members.

Policy implications for policymakers

Big picture for lay audiences

Your language should match your audience.Locally relevant analogies can help audiences relate to your messages.Provide the level of detail suited to your audience’s needs.

Continued on next slide


Follow a three-step process to produce messages that address situations that arise during a study.

Identify the situation.

State clearly how you are addressing the situation.

Actively demonstrate your concern.Provide information about future impact. Active listening is imperative to tailor your messages.Take seriously news and rumors from religious leaders, community members and advocates.

Tailoring your Key Messages


Organize Your Messages

It can be useful to organize your messages in a table or grid.

A graphic can guide users through the logic of the messages and provide an easy, one-page reference.

Figure 7.2


Test your Messages

Read your message out loud. Does it sound conversational? Is your language simple?

Test your messages with members of the intended audience and with staff who work closely with that audience.


Delivering Key Messages

Base your communications strategy on your key messages. Incorporate them into communications tools.

Reinforce messages with study staff.

Update your message to reflect changes in your study.

Share your messages with colleagues who are conducting or supporting similar research.

Continued on next slide


Box 7.2, pg. 127

Delivering Key Messages


“This trial will break new ground in the field. For example…”

Message “Bridging”



Using a phrase that moves the direction of the interview into your territory.

Acknowledge the question. Then switch, or “bridge,” to your message.

“That’s not my area of expertise, but I think your audience would be interested in knowing that…”


Be Prepared

“Preparation is everything in communication. Know your audience. Decide what you want to say and what you want to ask before you begin communicating at any level – on a conference call, at the podium, or in media interviews. Simpler is better.”

Ward Cates, Distinguished Scientist and President Emeritus, FHI 360



Key messages are short, simple statements that convey the main points you want people to remember.

Effective messages are tailored, refined and tested to ensure they respond to the needs and concerns of different audiences.

Your key messages provide the building blocks for your materials and communications activities throughout your study.


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