A Simple Message for a Complex Organization

MCF’s network of communicators met recently for a discussion featuring three panelists who have developed and used messages at a variety of organizations.

This post covers the development of a message platform used to communicate the work of a complex, sometimes loosely connected, organization. It was presented by Rich Fischer, global communications manager for the Medtronic Foundation, an MCF member.

During development of this message, Fischer says they worked with several givens:

  • Create a message platform that is broad enough to capture sometimes seemingly disparate organizational activities or goals
  • Messages must be simple – even if the ideas and actions they convey may not necessarily be simplistic.
  • Speak with action, authenticity and credibility (don’t say what everyone else is saying)
  • Must have proof points of engagement and activity, or messages will ring hollow

Fischer also stressed that, especially at large organizations, it’s OK if people don’t all “tell the story” in exactly the same way. But, when you’re done, you’ll know if you’ve succeeded, if:

  • The messages capture and consolidate disparate organizational activities that strengthen an overall organization story
  • The organization’s work reflects and strengthens the message
  • When staff at all levels can contribute to the story through their actions, regardless if they use the specific “messaging”
  • Messaging is sustainable

For Medtronic and the Medtronic Foundation, the platform focused on a single overarching message that could be brought to life through all company activities: “Medtronic is improving the way the world treats chronic disease.”

Read the first posts from the meeting: Developing an Effective Message and Strengthening a Brand.

– Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

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