Fraternal Twins: Key Messages and Content

Key messages and content are fraternal twins born at the same time to the same marketing plan yet different in their appeal.  We’ve always used key messages in the PR business, whereas content marketing is a relatively new opportunity to connect with potential consumers.Is one more important than the other? Does content have to derive from key messages?

Here’s where we landed.

Key messages

Key messages are pieces of information that reflect why people give you money for something. They are ingredients of the sales process. Most buying decisions involve a complex set of criteria. Key messages help you show how well you meet the prospect’s criteria.

For example, we recently responded to an RFP that asked for information about media relations, social media, and blogging expertise. We took the time to create a thoughtful response. In the end, the prospect’s top criteria was size of firm. They wanted to see a key message about size and then consider the other criteria. Being a smaller firm, we had a long shot at best. And that’s okay. The prospect has that right.

We similarly won a piece of business because the prospect wanted to work with a smaller firm.

It’s okay to use key messages in a sales situation. But the last thing that anyone wants is for me to write about our firm’s key messages all day. So boring.


This is where content comes in. Content helps people solve a problem or answer a question they have at the time. In our business, that may be an article about responding to tough media questions, whether your CEO should have a blog, measuring social media, etc.

It’s not important whether the small or big firm writes the article or blog post. It’s not important whether the firm has graphic design skills or not. It’s a matter of how much the blog post helps the reader.

If you help someone, they are far more likely to put you on the short list when they actually need to buy something.

Content is far better at attracting prospects than key messages. But key messages are far better at closing a sale than content.

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