Why STIR Uses the Term “Messaging” to Describe Our Work Product

Brian Bennett

STIR | President
Oct 17

The marketing industry prides itself on staying current with cultural trends and on top of communications technologies, yet some of the jargon we use is well behind the curve. Several years ago, as we were working on some self-promotional materials, we innovated by using the term “integrated messaging” to describe what we do. This ties to our unique agency strategy and positioning in an essential way. It’s our marketing methodology.

We, like many advertising agencies, were using the term “creative” to describe our work product. This was a reflexive reference born from the fact that when all that agencies produced was advertising, all of our work was generated by the creative department.

But times have changed. And while we pride ourselves on producing some amazing “creative,” we are an integrated shop that also develops myriad other published content. In fact, in some cases, the content needs to be highly factual and credible – anything but creative. We found that using the term “creative” actually encouraged the wrong type of thinking on the part of our staff and our clients.

At that time we elected to use the term “messaging” when describing the totality of the communications that we produce at STIR, because each platform in our integrated communications matrix seeks to perform a specialized function and communicate specific messages in highly specialized ways.

In fact, there are many exceptions to term “creative” that are absolutely essential to any marketer today and that have become a staple in our integrated advertising agency. We have no set rules within the agency, but this is a short sample of how we tend to refer to the ‘non-creative’ messaging that we produce by discipline.

Advertising = Creative

Promotion = Offer and incentive/artwork/graphics

Design = Layouts, word marks

Inbound marketing = Whitepapers, case studies, technical writing

Public relations = Story lines, pitches, news releases, fact sheets

Blogging = Content, articles

Social media marketing = Posts, tweets, updates, conversations , photos

Web development = Content

More examples of ‘non-creative’ messaging includes:

  • Keywords utilized in tags, subject titles that are driven by SEO needs
  • Documentary style videos that enhance and encapsulate reality
  • Technical writing that artfully and accurately describes highly complex products, procedures or concepts
  • Layouts of content for periodicals or case studies where the premium is on clarity and scannability
  • Infographics where the design is intended to visualize a concept

Across this continuum of messaging STIR’s approach to communications is to look at each passage of communications in three ways:

  1. The emotional appeal that tends to feature the product benefit and create targeted interest and engagement
  2. The strategic element that supports the brand positioning and fulfills the specialized function required by the platform
  3. Keyword delivery based on a ubiquitous brand designed strategy to fortify SEO

I must note that some of the folks that have been a bit confused by our use of the term ‘messaging’ have been some traditional public relations practitioners. The term ‘messaging’ historically has been used in the PR discipline to describe the baseline talking points or editorial priorities that would comprise the strategy behind the effort. That messaging in the PR world would be crafted into finished communications in many different ways depending upon the execution. We’ve essentially built upon this concept and applied it across multiple marketing platforms.

More Messaging Insights