Rocky Mountain Prep Message Training


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  • Michael Bennet’s senate campaign knew they needed to reach independent voters and convince them that Ken Buck was a risky choice.
  • Biggest: Background in public policySecond: EducationFewer in communications and marketingOverall, you were split on communications experience, previous message trainings, experience as a spokesperson, etc.
  • But you were all united in this: every person who took the survey marked that ensuring consistency across all ambassadors/spokespeople is a challenge. This is the reason that we’re here today. Consistency starts here—with the people in this room.
  • Message should serve as the foundation of everything you do, from materials to media to individual conversations. We’re just starting with a few top-line messages to use today. As the school takes more shape, we can add more messages that reflect what is unique about RMP.
  • I want to provide you with just a little background on how we developed these messages—a glimpse into the thought process because this is the same process I recommend that you use in the future as you need more messages.
  • Some of the audiences you’ll need to influence: Denver elites in education circles (mayoral candidates, business funders, political leaders involved in education), funders (foundations, individuals)More immediately: Parents with children eligible to attend and the Southwest Denver neighborhood at large. This is our focus today.
  • What information do you have/need about audience perceptions (e.g. public opinion polling)?What information do you have or need that will help support your messages (e.g. prevalence data, economic impact)?At the end of the day, parents who can make the call to send their kids to your school value: safe, small, and free schools that provide an excellent education for their kids. Everyone here I’m sure feels that that is the very least that we owe our kids. At this point, the parents probably know very little about RMP, let alone what a charter school is and how it’s different (in positive ways) from the school their kid currently attends.
  • Some of the basics: What is a message?
  • When we talk about a message we’re talking about something that is compelling, persuasive, supported by facts and illustrated by examples. It’s not your mission statements. It’s not your tagline. It’s the essential point you want people to remember (depending on who the audience is and what the context is.) In most situations, the reality is you can only effectively communicate ONE THING.
  • When we talk about a message we’re talking about something that is compelling, persuasive, supported by facts and illustrated by examples. It’s not your mission statements. It’s not your tagline. It’s the essential point you want people to remember.A message is NOT: Technical/jargon/acronyms / Bland / LegaleseKnow what you want to say, regardless of what questions are asked.Keep coming home to your message“The bottom line is…”“Keep in mind that…”“The key point is…”Be prepared to answer numerous questions with the same answer
  • For each of your messages, you want to adhere to this anatomy. When speaking or writing about RMP, you won’t always be able to include all of these elements because of limited time and space, but you should at least have this kind of thinking behind every message.
  • Your messages should serve as the foundation of all of your communications and be reflected in materials, presentations, interviews and advertising.
  • This shows how a message on one page is supported by facts and illustrative examples on the facing page. So where you have more space—printed materials, your website, etc.—you should use all elements of the message anatomy.
  • Don’t assume they care – make them careAvoid abstract concepts, acronymsTell stories (no one has ever cried over a pie chart)Talk about real people, use anecdotes rich in detailFocus on impact, not processNever overestimate knowledge or interest of audience but don’t be condescending (the “12 year old test”)Stress the values that drive you and your organizationAct human—show empathy
  • Remove words that don’t mean anything to your audience. Put yourself in their shoes and communicate in a way that is simple, clear and relevant to them. In many cases this may require the transcreation of materials to ensure messages that are culturally relevant. ‘You should also AVOID acronyms—that’s why I’m a little hesitant to include DREAM in your “key message,” even though it’s a great tool to use with your students and teachers. Focus on OUTCOMES, not process (see “college prep curriculum” sample)
  • Claim / Fact / Illustrative Example
  • Claim / Fact / Illustrative ExampleFact stat source: Calculated using data from DPS graduation and completion reports, 2008-09.
  • Claim / Fact / Illustrative Example
  • Claim / Fact / Illustrative Example
  • Claim / Fact / Illustrative Example
  • Claim / Fact / Illustrative ExampleFact source:Sandy Baum and Jennifer Ma, Education Pays: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society (New York: The College Board, 2007), 18. <>
  • Claim / Fact / Illustrative Example
  • Messengers come from inside and outside your organization. Who are the potential messengers that come to mind for you?Churches, neighborhood associations, leaders in the community, vocal families! When you’re canvassing next week, you’ll have a great opportunity to ask those that you talk to who are the influencers in the community. Figure out a way to capture that information.
  • Make sure you disseminate your messages to key spokespeople and consider a message training – whether or not they will act as “official” spokespeople in your community. Remember; everyone is an ambassador. What will that take? Training, educating, useful tools
  • Don’t stop with just your organization or coalition. Get your message delivered by third-party allies that align with your objectives.
  • Your messages should be evident in all communications, both materials you create and mass media.
  • Since RMP is still early on in the process of establishing itself, your focus right now should be on EDUCATING the audience about the PROBLEM. This lays the foundation for presenting them with a solution in the future.
  • Here’s the same effort later in the process. Now messages have moved beyond educating audiences about the problem to informing them about the solution with a specific call to action.This process of PROBLEM then SOLUTION will come across when we’re canvassing next weekend. First we’ll talk about the PROBLEM with the current schools. Then we’ll present the solution: supporting RMP.
  • Rocky Mountain Prep Message Training

    1. 1. Rocky Mountain Prep<br />Message Training 101<br />
    2. 2. Can changing the message change the outcome? <br />
    3. 3. Do you have a formal background (education and/or training) in communications, public policy, marketing or education? <br />SE2<br />
    4. 4. What challenges do you foresee with using messages? <br />Consistency<br />Memorizing<br />Using w/media<br />Tailoring to <br />audiences<br />Resources ($)<br />SE2<br />
    5. 5. Message is everything.<br />SE2<br />
    6. 6. Objectives.<br /><ul><li>What are you trying to achieve?
    7. 7. What do you want your audience to do?
    8. 8. What information do you need?</li></ul>SE2<br />
    9. 9. Audience (A)<br /><ul><li>Who do you need to influence?
    10. 10. Who influences them?</li></ul>SE2<br />
    11. 11. Audience (B) <br /><ul><li>What do they value?
    12. 12. What do they already know?
    13. 13. What information do you have that would be useful in talking with them?</li></ul>SE2<br />
    14. 14. What is a message?<br />SE2<br />
    15. 15. What is a message?<br /><ul><li>A factual statement presented in a persuasive way
    16. 16. The essential point you want to get across
    17. 17. What you want people to remember</li></ul>SE2<br />
    18. 18. Messages…<br /><ul><li>Don’t need to be repeated verbatim
    19. 19. Need to be repeated in various contexts
    20. 20. Should be disseminated to all ambassadors
    21. 21. Are not “evergreen”</li></ul>SE2<br />
    22. 22. Anatomy of a message:<br />Claim <br />Facts<br />Illustrative example #1<br />Illustrative example #2<br />SE2<br />
    23. 23. Where do messages get used?<br />Op-ed<br />Television <br />commercials<br />Flyers<br />Speaking engagements <br />Events<br />Radio <br />Web<br />Press releases <br />Direct mail <br />Email<br />Talking points<br />Interviews<br />Media<br />SE2<br />
    24. 24. Where do messages get used?<br />SE2<br />
    25. 25. Rocky Mountain Prep’s<br />Messages<br />SE2<br />
    26. 26. The great word swap<br />Avoid jargon<br />Blended learning<br />College prep curriculum<br />Outdoor ethic<br />Preparing kids to succeed in a technology-drive workplace<br />Our goal is for every student to graduate from a four-year college<br />Our students will learn real world skills like leadership and teamwork in addition to an emphasis on reading and math.<br />SE2<br />
    27. 27. The Problem (National)<br />America as a whole is loosing ground in world competition<br />Once first in the world, the U.S. now ranks 10th in percentage of young people with a college degree.<br />Among 30 developed countries, the U.S. ranks 25th in math and 21st in science.<br />Students in the Westwood neighborhood are five times more likely to drop out of high school than graduate from college.<br />SE2<br />
    28. 28. The Problem (National)<br />To compete in the global economy, students need a quality education that prepares them for success in a four-year college and life.<br />Of those DPS students who did graduate from high school, fewer than half enrolled in college (2008-09 statistics).<br />Not long ago, Americans could get a stable, good-paying job with only a high school diploma. But in an increasingly globalized and complex economy, experts agree that education is more important than ever.<br />.<br />SE2<br />
    29. 29. The Problem (Local)<br />The local schools are failing our kids.<br />Students in the Westwood neighborhood are five times more likely to drop out of high school than graduate from college.<br />Personal story.<br />SE2<br />
    30. 30. The Problem (Local)<br />More of our kids are on track to go to prison than go to college.<br />If you can’t read at grade level by third grade, you’re more likely to go to prison than college.<br />By third grade, two out of three kids in the Westwood neighborhood can’t read at grade level.<br />SE2<br />
    31. 31. The Solution (National)<br />Strong schools make strong communities.<br />A college graduate will make $1 million more in his/her lifetime than someone with a lower level of education.<br />College graduates are much less likely than individuals with lower levels of education to be unemployed / rely on public assistance programs / live in a poverty-level household. <br />SE2<br />
    32. 32. The Solution (National and Local)<br />Improving our public schools is one of the best ways we can revitalize our urban areas because quality schools strengthen the local economy.<br />Today, among all racial/ethnic groups, unemployment rates are much lower for college graduates than for high school graduates.<br />Rocky Mountain Prep’s goal is for every single student to attend and graduate from a four year university. <br />SE2<br />
    33. 33. The Solution (Local)<br />Rocky Mountain Prep will prepare your student for success in a knowledge-based economy.<br />If you can’t read at grade level by third grade, you’re more likely to go to prison than college.<br />We promise that every single student will read at grade level by the third grade.<br />SE2<br />
    34. 34. Who will deliver your messages?<br />SE2<br />
    35. 35. Who are the messengers?<br />Objective Get enough intent to enroll forms <br />Audience Southwest Denver neighborhood<br />Message Your child is at risk for not getting the education he/she deserves<br />Messenger Volunteers<br />Better Local community leaders, community organizers<br />Even better Vocal parents who are trusted by other parents<br />SE2<br />
    36. 36. Ensuring message consistency. <br />SE2<br />
    37. 37. Share your messages with third-parties.<br />SE2<br />
    38. 38. Vehicles for message delivery. <br />
    39. 39. A message in context - education:<br />SE2<br />
    40. 40. SE2<br />
    41. 41. Questions?<br />SE2<br />
    42. 42. Thanks!<br />