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Rock and roll lesson: Keep it simple

Staying on point is key to getting your message across

It’s not my intent to get all dorkestra on you, but when I was younger I was a DJ and was obsessed with music. Not surprisingly, I also used to love rock and roll movies.

You may remember the movie “Eddie and the Cruisers.” It’s less likely that you remember its follow-up, “Eddie and the Cruisers II.” There’s a scene from that movie that really resonates with me, as it has a very important lesson about public relations.

In the scene, which can be viewed here, one character explains that a fancy guitar riff was so dazzling that it wasn’t memorable. In contrast, “letting the music live and breathe” makes it last.

Let the message breathe

As the spokesperson for your EMS agency, you might not think this lesson applies to you, but you would be wrong. Too often we overwhelm reporters and the community with unnecessary information to the point where they don’t hear us at all. Try telling one story at a time.

The natural inclination when putting together a press release or sharing a story is to include everything. Don’t.

The more you try to say in a story, the less your audience will hear or remember. You need the key message to be concise and simple to understand.

Think of it this way. A TV news story on your event is going to be 45 seconds long, no matter what. Do you want to try and jam three different messages into that 45 seconds, or are you going to have a better, more memorable story if the entire 45 seconds are on one specific topic or subject?

The same rule applies for a print story. Reporters normally walk into a story knowing how much space on the page or what word count they want to fill. If you clutter a story with interesting but unnecessary angles or facts, you’re wasting space that otherwise could have been focused on your core point.

Today’s takeaway

  • The more you try to say, the less your audience will hear.
  • Keep the message simple to digest and easy to remember.

And to help drive home my point, I’m making this my shortest PR Medic column to date.

Josh Weiss served as the national Director of Public Relations for Rural/Metro Corporation, a leading national provider of private ambulance and fire protection services, and as Director of Communications and Public Affairs for American Traffic Solutions, a national leader in traffic safety cameras. In the past 15 years, Josh has worked with hundreds of external and internal clients including public and private companies in the healthcare and technology industries, government municipalities, police and fire Departments, and community organizations to build positive brands and manage reputations. He now operates 10 to 1 Public Relations.