PUBLIC RELATIONS: A Simple Test to Make Your Brand Messages Stick, Every Time

By Danielle Ford

At a recent CEO Summit, Caryn Marooney, Head of Technology Communications for Facebook, summarized the test she uses to help develop messaging. She calls it the RIBS test – as in, “will the story stick to your ribs?”

R – Relevant

I – Inevitable

B – Believable

S – Simple

1. Relevant

Thank about your audience (or, your desired audience). Does your product/company solve a problem of theirs? Why should they care about you or find themselves interested in you at all? Why does what you’re doing deserve attention, especially compared to how other companies are addressing the same problem?

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2. Inevitable

So you’re relevant to you’re audience. You’ve defined a problem.

Now you want to lend an air of inevitability to your solution. 

This can come easily if you have a great deal of passion or conviction in your project. For many people (or agency PR pros with no teeth in the game for the product), it might be more difficult.

Try imagining a world where what you’re developing is mainstream. It’s every where. Everyone knows the company, many people use it, competitors are peddling knock-offs. That is what inevitability feels like. And that’s the feeling you want to convey with your messaging. 

As you’re crafting your message, check in with the PR pro living in that world – where you’re already the big thing – and see if what your message checks out.

3. Believable

So your audience agrees that the problem your product addresses is relevant, and that a change is inevitable…why should they believe your company will be the ones to get us there?

This can come down to credibility via the history of the company or its leaders. It can come down to case studies. It can happen any number of ways. The question to ask yourself as you’re developing your messaging is this: why should they believe in us?

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4. Simple

With click-bait titles trying to hook you in, tweets and Facebook updates, emails, etc, there are a thousand pulls on our attention. Do your readers (and yourself) a favor: keep your message short and simple so it’s not yet another pull on your audience’s headspace.

Edit your message down. Then, edit it down some more. If you only had one line…what would be the one line you want people to remember?

Oh, and stay away from buzz words (ie, innovation, scalability, optimization). “They sound like white noise.”

As you’re developing messaging, run your ideas through this little framework. Use it to help you stay cognizant of your strengths and weaknesses (for instance, I naturally obsess over relevance and simplicity, but ‘inevitability’ is something I rarely think about), and you’ll be well on your way to messaging that is stronger than ever!

For a fuller explanation and more of Marooney’s tips, visit this FirstRound blog here.