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There are 4 Types of Message Goals; Which Are You Trying to Achieve?

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

Written communication falls into two general buckets: creative writing and productive writing. Creative writing does not require organization. It CAN involve organization but that is never a prerequisite. It is writing from the heart and generally produces an emotion. Productive writing is entirely different. It serves a purpose. Often, creative writing can be used as part of the productive writing strategy yet, good, productive writing should never be written without a plan.

Here are the five steps to consider before crafting your message:

  1. Identify your audience

  2. Assign a message goal

  3. Craft language to suit the goal

  4. Select a tactic for each audience (email, letter, poster, in person meeting, etc)

  5. Specialize the language to suit each tactic

Building a strong and relevant messaging strategy always follows these 5 steps. And in almost all cases, in this order. As we have discussed previously, identifying your audience MUST be first. And we will revisit this in the future. In this post, we will discuss #2 - message goal.

A goal keeps the writer focused. With each word, you can and should ask yourself "does this help achieve the message goal?" If the answer is no, it's not the correct word.

Now, how do you identify your message goal? Read through the following 4 categories and consider which goal aligns best with the message you wish to craft.

What is the goal of your message

1) Action

  • This message requires that the reader takes action.

  • Action messages need to be short. If the entire message is not short, the action section must be BOLDED or visually separated

  • The action portion of the message should be stated, written, or announced at the top of the communication

  • For some, the action may be difficult. If so, state the challenge openly. Do not try and avoid the challenge. It will weaken your message

2) Influence the action of someone else

  • This message requires an individual to motivate, influence or educate someone else

  • For example, a leader in an organization may need guidance on coaching a direct report through a specific challenge

  • A physician may need to describe a new hospital procedure to his/her patients

  • A caregiver must educate their elderly parent on the benefits of a certain medication

  • In all cases, the message must be clear. You are providing a message to your audience (the influencer) AND offering them language to use when they are actively influencing...

  • A frequently asked question (FAQ) document works very well in this case

3) For Your Information - Impact with no action required

  • The goal of this message is to ensure that the reader is aware of the change

  • This individual may be impacted by the change but no action is required of them

  • This nuance is important to note when crafting a message

  • Consider including a source for more information (a phone number to call) if they encounter a challenge or have their own set of questions

4) For Your Information - No Impact

  • This message ensures that your reader is aware of changes that likely will NOT impact them

  • This message is important for culture continuity amongst employees, patients, educators, leaders...and ensures everyone understands what is happening despite their involvement

  • For example, if some of your employees are affected by a major change, chatter may develop. A strong 'FYI' message can get ahead of that and control the narrative

So remember, productive messaging requires a plan. Think about the message you are trying to send. Which of the four categories does it fall under? I promise, with the assignment of a goal, you will find it easier to choose the language AND tactics to suit it.

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