Developing your messages, often referred to as “key” messages, is an important component of public relations planning. These messages help you to organize what you say about your business in a media interview, when giving a speech or when speaking to a prospective customer. Prioritizing them into primary and secondary messages ensures that you detail the most important information first, particularly if you only have a few minutes to get your points across.

Primary: Who You Are

Who you are -- meaning you and your business -- is a critical primary message. You need to be able to communicate who you are and what you do in a clear and concise manner. For example, a commercial architect’s primary message might describe how he specializes in designing energy-efficient commercial office space for the retail industry. Include any information that you would want to see in print or in a radio or television broadcast. One such example: “Since 1994, Acme Architects has designed energy-efficient commercial office space specifically for high-end retail shops.”

Primary: Differentiation

What sets you apart from other businesses in your industry is your differentiation.This is more than just saying you’re the “best”: You want to be concrete with your claim and be able to back it up. If you are the only architect that has an energy-efficient rating from a government agency, or if you have designed the majority of retail shops in your city, those are good examples of differentiating messages. Two or three primary messages should sum up what your audiences need to know about you.

Secondary: Supporting Information

A secondary message that supports your primary messages -- but wouldn’t eliminate critical information if it wasn’t delivered -- might typically be something about your investors or impressive details about your work. For example: “Our architects have designed over 20 retail buildings downtown, including the popular boutiques on Main Street.” Other secondary information could convey information about your employees or awards that you’ve earned.

Secondary: Validation

Use messages to validate your primary messages of who you are and what sets you apart. Examples include customer testimonials, such as, “A survey of our customers indicates that 100 percent would choose our firm again for their next building.” If your primary message makes a claim, such as energy-efficient building practices, a secondary message validating that would give an example of average lower energy bills among your customers.