BACKGROUND AND GOALS
Message Mapping Workshops are designed to produce "message maps," a roadmap for displaying detailed,
hierarchically organized responses to anticipated questions or concerns about issues. It is a visual aid that provides
at a glance the organization's messages for high concern or controversial issues.
The communications goals achieved by developing and using message maps include the following:
1. Identifying stakeholders early in the communication process.
2. Anticipating stakeholder questions and concerns before they are raised.
3. Organizing our thinking and developing prepared messages in response to anticipated stakeholder questions
4. Developing key messages and supporting information within a clear, concise, transparent, and accessible
5. Promoting open dialogue about messages both inside and outside the organization.
6. Providing user friendly guidance and direction to spokespersons.
7. Ensuring that the organization has a central repository of consistent messages.
8. Encouraging the organization to speak with one voice.
STEPS IN CONSTRUCTING A MESSAGE MAP
Seven steps are involved in constructing a message map.
• Step One: Identify Stakeholders
● Step Two: Identify Complete List of Specific Concerns
● Step Three: Identify Common Sets of Underlying General Concerns
● Step Four: Develop Key Messages in Response to Stakeholder Questions, Concerns, or Perceptions
● Step Five: Develop Supporting Facts and Proofs for Each Key Message
● Step Six: Conduct Systematic Message Testing Using Standardized Message Testing Procedures
● Step Seven: Plan For The Delivery of the Prepared Message Maps
The first step is to identify stakeholders – interested, affected, or influential parties – for a selected issue or topic of
high concern. Stakeholders can be distinguished further by prioritizing them according to their potential to affect
outcomes and their credibility with other stakeholders.
The second step in message mapping is to identify a complete list of specific concerns for each important
stakeholder group. Questions and concerns typically fall into three groupings:
● Overarching (O) questions (for example: “What is the most important thing that the public should know
about this issue?”)
● Informational (I) questions (for example: “What is the budget allocated for your response?”)
● Challenging (C) questions or statements (for example: “Why should we trust what you are telling us?”)
Research indicates that more than 95% of the concerns that will be raised by any stakeholder in any controversy,
conflict, crisis, or high concern situation can be predicted in advance using these techniques.