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Strategic Storytelling: Start with Key Messaging Pillars


What are your organization’s key message pillars? Are they simple, clear and easy to remember? If so, your stories will be shared in a positive light in ways that you may not have imagined possible.

A few years ago, at the Ragan Social Media Conference in Orlando, Disney showcased its communication and social media strategy. Disney is a leader in many categories and is fascinating to study and emulate.

If Disney can get the world excited about a mouse, what can we learn from them to get customers excited about your services?

Although we think of Disney as an entertainment company, it’s an entity that crosses into many market sectors: engineering innovation, film, media, real estate, travel, retail, housing, food service, even farming and agriculture…the list goes on. It’s a complex organization. At the conference, the Disney communications team presented six simple message pillars that framed their storytelling across all platforms. Amid all the complexity, Disney was laser-focused on six buckets. It was discipline that fueled their magic.

Take time to define key messages

Defining key messaging pillars for your organization increases efficiency and effectiveness. It isn’t rocket science, but it’s an activity that is often overlooked. It provides focus for storytelling, supports strategic priorities, and gives communicators, leaders and staff a simple framework for content. Message pillars also increase efficiency. They save time when staring at a blank page. They make it easier to fill holes on an editorial calendar for social media. They narrow focus to a few important topics. Pillars also act as guardrails when a colleague wants a story about a pet project that doesn’t align with your strategic priorities. They provide accountability when you set specific targets for the number of stories or posts supporting each key message pillar.

What are the stories most often told about your organization by front-line staff, customers, and leaders? Are they the stories for which you want to be known? Companies that want to be known as innovative need to be showcasing stories of innovation. Is it customer service, ethical practices, values-based, low-cost or high-quality, corporate social responsibility?

At CEL, we are known for creative, effective, lasting integrated marketing communications. We work with organizations that align with our mission: the betterment of business, family and community. Our stories showcase creative branding, effective strategic marketing plans that generate a positive return on the investment, and lasting relationships because we help your business or organization grow.

Key message pillars strategically unify marketing and public relations activities to advance your mission and goals across all channels: websites, blogs, email, newsletters, video, social media, media relations.

In day-to-day marketing and communications, it’s easy to get wrapped up in transactional communication (events, advertising, websites, forms, procedures, or the issue of the day) and neglect the messaging required to win over the hearts and minds of our stakeholders.

Message pillars provide focus. And, sharing them with your team keeps everyone moving your organization forward. It’s a good investment that will result in a unified and engaged organization maximizing return on your time, money and resource investments.


Published on: March 21, 2019