Pick Three Things (And Stick With ‘Em)

Pick Three Things

“Pick three ideas and convey them frequently.”

It’s advice we give to clients in the PR world, especially when we train them to speak with media or engage with public audiences of any kind.

Our strange cultural fascination with the number “3” aside, there is wisdom in the root of this concept. Studies show the human brain can’t retain more than three bits of information at a time, at least not in a meaningful way. And even though you can train your brain to do more, the truth is, most people don’t.

Just as the parable advises on how to eat an elephant, we should not endeavor to jump to the final step from the first. Nor should we try to accomplish everything simultaneously. At best, we will fail. At worst, we will implode.

Three things. Pick ’em and stick with ’em. Only once they are done (one way or another) should you decide to move on.

What’s YOUR Message?

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Message In A Bottle

Last week I took part in the Fair Media Council‘s “Social Media Summer Boot Camp” on Long Island, presenting on the topic of creating effective social media messages. (Read the Newsday article here.)

Right up front, I promised to disappoint everyone, confessing that “I don’t know what your message should be; only you do.” In other words, you’re the only expert on you!

It didn’t get the ah-ha reaction I was hoping for (more like *crickets*) but that, combined with a couple recent run-ins with folks who also don’t know what their message is got me thinking:

“How do you create a message?”

The basics on how to message are pretty straightforward:

1. Be clear, concise and (factually) correct.

2. Don’t unnecessarily offend; don’t lie.

3. Be frequent, be timely.

From there, it’s all details. Whether you’re selling a product, service or attraction, or trying to recruit people to your cause, the *how* you message will always be the same.

I also follow some sage advice I once got: “Don’t ask people for things. Tell them what they’re going to do for you.”

That segues nicely into another piece of advice I had for the group, which is to always make messages action-oriented and experiential (hat tip: MashCon 2011).

The quantity of content coming across our transom every day is alarming. No one can digest it all. So being effective with your message has never been more important. And the best way to be effective is by making what you message a course of action for the reciever, usually taking the form of “click here to (buy, donate, watch, share).” It can take other forms too, but these are the most basic.

Of course, making sure links work and your backend is functioning properly are paramount at this stage.

If you’re interested in having me come speak to your group on this topic, I’d love to. Get in touch on the “about” page (see how I did that?).

And let me know how you message!