Politicians Need Message Mapping

Soulati-Message-Mapping.jpbDuring election season, I usually get a call from several attorneys seeking marketing services for their bid to become a municipal judge or other position as an elected official. When the call came in recently for this same circumstance, I informed the caller I would consider adding my hat to his ring only after we executed a message mapping exercise.

Politicians need message mapping just like other business leaders do, too.

Message Maps Are Critical Tools

I always say, every company needs a message map. That goes the same for solopreneurs and especially politicians.

When a politician is running for an office associated with a party, a message map is the critical first step to ensure everyone in the campaign tracks with the views of the candidate.

Imagine if a candidate steps in front of a camera for an interview and answers a question with something out of left field no one was prepared for? Enter damage control! Call out the crisis communications team!

Executives of companies are no different than politicians when it comes to media interviews. They, too, require a message map, media training (with the map), and role playing to prepare for tough questions from journalists. If the CEO of a company does not heed counsel from the public relations team and goes off on a tangent that is off message, a lot of damage can be done with comments out of context. We have all seen how politicians fare in these circumstances, and it ain’t pretty. [Read more...]

Message Mapping: Why Your Business Needs It

Message-mapping-book-Soulati.jpgThat word “messaging?” It’s been around a really long time, born in traditional marketing and public relations. And, you know what? It remains as important today as before, perhaps even more so.

Technology has disrupted how business markets to customers and how sales teams build relationships, too. It’s ever more critical to ensure your messaging is tight to inform your business story to everyone outside your company.

I am a message mapping master.

For 20 years, I have been standing in front of businesses of all sizes to help them fine tune messages to position the company with authority.

Not much has changed with the process I use to facilitate a message mapping session. What has changed is the clutter. Companies, solopreneurs, small firms, business units, sales teams, and corporations are struggling to deliver a clear and simple message. [Read more...]

Citigroup CEO Launches Citi Bike With Best Messaging Ever


Credit: http://citibikenyc.com

In a recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup, scored a huge tandem win in New York City with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The financial behemoth put $41 million into a bike-sharing program for New Yorkers and tourists to traverse the narrow streets of Manhattan on three-speed blue Citi Bikes with puncture-resistant tires. After three years of study, the program launched May 27, 2013 (in time for a three-day weekend). Here’s the program blog!

The program has been hugely successful with 4.7 million trips and 9.4 million pedaled miles “obliterating projections.”

That’s not all.

Mr. Pandit delivered messaging that so completely blew me away, I had to share.

Here is what he said word for word as extrapolated in the Bloomberg Businessweek story,

“Pandit smiled and took the microphone. ‘Citi Bike is kind of like the Zipcar for bikes. It’s better for the environment. It’s also good exercise. People will be able to borrow a Citi Bike wherever they want and return it at their destination. This should lead to fewer cars on the road. It should lead to less crowding on subways and buses and better access to neighborhoods far from public transit.’ And best of all: ‘As the mayor said – all of this without using any taxpayer money!’”

Please Purchase “Message Mapping: How to Deliver External Communication With a #RockHot Tool for Leaders” Right Here!

The Citi Bike Message Map

When we dissect these neat sound bites packed with punch, we can see a perfect message map that covers all the benefits Citi Bike has to offer and squarely positions Citigroup directly on top; not to mention the expert delivery of Mr. Pandit.

Let’s take a look:

  • Home Base Message – this is the primary descriptor of Citi Bike; the easy message everyone can recall and relate to.
    Citi Bike is like the Zipcar for bikes. Mr. Pandit added “kind of like” to the description which is perfectly fine as he made the factoid his and personalized it.
  • Second Tier Messages – Each of these, usually four, second tier messages provide further explanation about the company or program. They could be about customers, price, innovation, benefits, investment, etc.
  • Citi Bike is better for the environment.
  • It’s good exercise.
  • It’s convenient – people can borrow a Citi Bike at origin and return it at their destination.
  • Less crowding. There will be fewer cars on the road, fewer people on subways and better access in neighborhoods.
  • Cost to taxpayers? FREE!

How Citigroup CEO Scored

Typically, the delivery of quick, spot-on messages is rare by CEOs of companies. What’s also rare is the fact that a journalist reported the messages in the story. Mr. Pandit earned something like 14 lines of a quote in the Bloomberg BusinessWeek story. Wonderful.

Let’s address one more thing – the subject of the story. Who can resist such a feel-good story for Manhattan? I love the point that the cost to tax payers is zilch; not to mention the proven mileage pedaled and trips tracked already!

When a publicly traded company the size of Citigroup is front and center with media, it’s customary for the highest executive to take the lead position. Mr. Pandit hit this one out of the park, and why not? He knew it was a homerun before he stepped up to the plate.

P.S. Hat tip to the Citi Bike website; it’s one of the best I’ve seen…take a look when you get a chance!

Janet Yellen Messaging Delivery To Be Tested By Senate

janet-yellen-smiling.jpgJanet Yellen is a candidate to succeed Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve.

Paragraph one of a Wall Street Journal story, “Hearing to Test Yellen’s Skills of Communication,” Oct. 10, 2013 about a Senate confirmation hearing for President Obama’s pick to succeed Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve states this:

Janet Yellen often shows up for policy meetings at the Federal Reserve armed with carefully prepared statements mapping out her positions on key issues. Her speeches are often backed up with precisely footnoted documents. She rarely strays from her prepared text.

Janet Yellen Uses A Message Map (Essentially)

I bet she has a slew of mapped documents (based on that paragraph in the story) to keep her well prepared for meetings.

What happens, however, when she sits in front of the U.S. Senate amongst mostly friendly fire and the questions are unknown and drilled?

She’ll need to go off message, but if she’s the consummate communicator she’s portrayed as, she will do the following:

  • She will brainstorm every question possible about the Fed’s performance and the past performances of its leadership.
  • She will develop answers for every possible question.
  • She will practice and review and practice again. She will be ultra prepared for that confirmation hearing.

She may get a question that comes out of left field, but we’ll know from watching that she’ll ready.

Message Mapping

Message-Mapping-Book.jpgMy recently published second book, Message Mapping: How to Sizzle External Communication with a #RockHot Tool for Leaders, helps teams and executives prepare for experiences like the one Janet Yellen will be in to earn her position and to confront the inquisitive media every day.

While company leaders are rarely in the spotlight as frequently as this by national media and the federal government, every single business leader needs a message map. Why? Because it helps put all the company factoids in one place. A message map becomes the tool leaders can use to guide them through an interview or meeting or speech or conversation.

In my book, I develop a message map for a fictitious company, and I provide the template for your own message map while telling you how to go about it. The book is a PDF download, and it’s available right here.

What are The Tells?

In poker, when it’s on TV, the announcers are good about looking for the tell in a player. What is the habitual tick a player makes that shows a bluff?

That’s not to say Janet Yellen has any of her own and hopefully not for the bluff!

What we can watch for, however, is whether she’s surprised with a question and what her reaction will be:

  • Stutter, hem and haw. Some executives uncomfortable with a question resort to umms and ahhs during message delivery.
  • Vacant stare. Instead of being able to quip a remark, some get lost staring into space.
    Too fast delivery.

If someone quickly speaks and doesn’t think first about the content of the message, it can come out like gobble.

For someone the likes of Janet Yellen, my expectation is that she’ll smile as often as she can and attempt to warm the Senate while impressing them with her expertise and confidence. Of course, she’ll be the first woman ever to head this prestigious group, and that’s a critical opportunity for those women who enjoy the climb.

Why did I say she might smile a lot? In the photographs we’ve seen once she was selected by the President, she was beaming.

Now, we get to see if I’m right about her comportment as she vies for this venerable position to lead us through financial crises on a global scale.

Content Marketing: Can You Master It?


By Cision

The online world is awash in content; it’s ubiquitous, invading our every sense and cell of brain power.

Are you contributing to the torrential downpour of words to ether? Are you doing it well and have you mastered it?

It’s anyone’s guess who has mastered content marketing; in fact, I proffer no one. If you are a blogger, then your mastery of content marketing is slim to none, as blogging takes years of daily learning and there’s always more to figure.

The biggest culprit in content marketing is Google. Look every day at Google’s announcements, and you’ll find yet another app destroyed and algorithm rejiggered much to the chagrin of we onliners who think we’re grasping the solutions only to be dismantled with one flick.

Last Friday, I was keynote of the content marketing track at ConvergeSouth. This presentation truthfully made me ponder the meaning of content marketing and where people are headed on this journey.

Do you know?

In this SlideShare deck just below, I provide you with several ponderances:
1. Timeline of a Blogger – Years 1, 2, and 3 and what you may expect (from my POV, of course)
2. Content Marketing definition, data and ideas for content
3. Marketing Automation tools

Content Syndication

A successful content marketer needs tools to syndicate content. In a test campaign I did with Cision Content Marketing Suite, five of my blog posts were amplified to the Washington Times, USA Today and Bloomberg. In 13 days, I saw my traffic rise exponentially with 90 percent unique visitors. It’s a fantastic solution and for serious bloggers wondering about what’s next, this is a grand opportunity and especially for company blogs.

Attend a FREE Webinar

Are you familiar with Cision? It is the mainstay of public relations solutions for we who do media relations. Over the years (and I launched my career with Bacons, the precursor to Cision), the company has methodically innovated additional solutions and tools for public relations and companies to boost engagement and execute more systematically with an eye on results.

You’re invited to join me and Heidi Sullivan, SVP of Digital Content with Cision at 2 p.m. ET on Halloween, Oct. 31, 2013 for a discussion, What Is The Future Of Content?

It’s free to sign up, and based on my call with Heidi yesterday to plan our approach, there’s going to be a lot for you to hear.

Here’s the link:


If you have your own thoughts about content and its future alongside yours, please share in comments. Maybe you’ll sign up for the webinar and post your question in the online chat feature during our session?


Buy Message Mapping E-Book

Lastly, did you hear I launched my second book?

Message Mapping: How to Sizzle External Communication with a #RockHot™ Tool for Leaders

You can see why you need this business guide and get your copy (PDF ebook) via http://MessageMapping.co.