It seemed the biggest news story of last week was about a yellow skivvy. Specifically, how Sam Moran was cast aside as ‘the Yellow Wiggle’ from children’s band The Wiggles, as original band member Greg Page returned to the stage after a five-year absence.

It seemed like a fairly simple transition. Sam’s contract had ended, and Greg was returning to the band. In reality (financial and management woes aside), they handled it abysmally. Overall, I thought it was a nice lesson for all of us in how not to communicate to key stakeholders.

First example:

“The Wiggles were lost for words when pressed on the fate of ousted lead singer Sam Moran during an uncomfortable television interview this morning.”

“I haven’t spoken to him, I don’t know,” he told TODAY’s Richard Wilkins. ”Maybe you’ll have to talk to Sam to find out what he thinks. What Sam does now is Sam’s thing. His contract has come to an end.”

Lost for words? really? Because I’m pretty sure they knew they were going to have a national TV interview that may have included some awkward questions about their departing band member.

Purple Wiggle Jeff Fatt then jumped in to defend his bandmates, stating that the ‘natural chemistry’ with Moran wasn’t right for the group, and he had ‘really missed Greg’s voice’.

Negativity and a lack of gratitude for employees in a media interview? It can’t get much worse, and it was only a matter of time before the media backlash began. As the face of their business, there is no doubt that the Wiggles should have been better prepared to answer simple questions on their announcement, to prevent the uncomfortable moments that ensued.

So how could something like this be prevented? You may not need to prepare for a Today Show interview, but that’s not to say you can’t get your key messages in order. Here are some tips to get you started.

Creating a key messages document

Key messages are a simple way to ensure all your business communication—whether it be a website, press release, conversation at a networking event or media interview—tells the same story.

Your key messages aren’t just facts, they’re statements that you’d like customers and the media to associate with your brand. In a crisis they are even more important, as they allow you to communicate clearly and confidently, without room for misinterpretation.

You are likely to already know what the key messages for your business might be, but it’s a great idea to draft them properly and stick them in a spot where you can refer to them regularly.

1. Keep it simple

It’s important to keep your key messages short and sharp, and easily understood by your customers. For example, ‘Sarah Marie Communications helps businesses connect with their customers and inspire them to buy’.

2. Include your values and USP (unique selling proposition)?

Try and incorporate your difference into your key messages, as well as your values where possible. For example, ‘RedBalloon is passionate about changing the way people feel about giving gifts and the experience of receiving them’.

3. What is your main objective?

Remember the purpose of your communication. In the case of the Wiggles, the aim was to announce Greg’s return and reassure parents that they would continue to provide fun and entertainment to their children. Find your objective, and do not deviate from it.

4. Stay positive

It’s important to avoid negativity. That doesn’t mean you can’t be authentic, you just need to carefully select which parts of your message could possibly be left out and not affect the end result. Like, I don’t know, how often you stay up at night missing somebody’s voice. Things like that.

5. Be credible

Following each message, provide 2-3 proof points (or pieces of evidence) to add credibility to what you’re saying. For example, ‘Qantas is Australia’s largest airline and a national icon’ may be the key message, whereas ‘Qantas operates more than 2000 flights per week and employs more than 35,700 people with 93 per cent of them based within Australia.’ is the proof point.

6. Stay consistent

Apple is incredibly good at consistency. Their key message for the iPad, ‘a magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price’ was repeated throughout every single piece of communication that left Apple HQ—advertisements, PR, and even Steve Jobs’ speech. Consistency is everything. Once you find your message, stick to it, and make sure every staff member and supplier does the same.

So, what do you think? Are you on team Sam or team Greg? Do you think a key messages document would be a valuable addition to your business?

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