When risk, high-concern, and crisis communicators set out to create message maps, they follow six basic steps. While the most effective message maps require training to fully understand the creation process, the six basic steps are presented below as a high-level introduction.

More information about message maps and their creation can be found in Dr. Vincent Covello’s video-based course Pathway to Risk, High-Concern, and Crisis Communication.

About Message Maps

The message map is a powerful strategic tool for developing clear risk, high-concern, and crisis messages. A message map includes hierarchically organized information that helps communicators respond to anticipated questions or concerns.

The message map is a visual aid that provides at-a-glance messages for quickly answering questions during periods of stress and high emotion.

Message maps tell communicators what questions to expect and provide the recommended answers. With message maps, communicators can work from a consistent set of messages across diverse platforms.

Message maps enable communicators to check off key points and avoid “communicator’s regret” from saying something they shouldn’t have said or omitting to say something they should have said.

The Six Steps

The following are the six basic steps for creating a message map:

(1) Identify, profile, and prioritize stakeholders.

(2) Develop lists of stakeholder questions and concerns.

(3) Develop key messages.

(4) Develop supporting information.

(5) Test, practice, and deliver the message maps.

(6) Repurpose the message maps for appropriate information channels.

Pathway Prompt: Have you managed a recent communication effort that could have benefited from a message map?

Communicating Effectively When Feelings, Fears, and Facts Collide

More information about risk, high-concern, and crisis communication can be found in Dr. Covello’s video-based course Pathway to Risk, High-Concern, and Crisis Communication. This master class introduces communicators to the tools and techniques for communicating effectively—while providing greater insight into why audiences react the way they do during times of stress.

The course comprises nine video lectures and accompanying text modules, plus supplemental materials for putting valuable lessons into practice.

More information about the course, including group rates and partnering opportunities, can be found by emailing info@pathwaycommunication.com.

Dr. Vincent Covello

Dr. Vincent Covello, director of the Center for Risk Communication, is one of the world’s leading experts and practitioners on risk, high-concern, and crisis communication. He is the author of more than 150 articles in scientific journals and the author/editor of more than 20 books. Dr. Covello is a consultant, writer, and teacher. He is a frequent keynote speaker and has conducted communication skills training for thousands.