2.1 Information for Messages

Communicators perform two basic tasks: they gather and evaluate information, and they create messages. This course focuses on the information strategy skills communicators must hone to find the information they need to form effective messages.

Media messages take myriad forms and serve different functions.  In this lesson we will discuss the variety of media message types.

To get started, answer this – which of the following is not a media message?

  • Editorial about mass transit needs
  • Branded content (advertorial) about nursing home services
  • News release announcing a company’s merger with another company
  • TV commercial for dog food
  • Breaking news story about a tornado
  • Profile of a performance artist
  • Billboard for a mobile phone company
  • Five-part series on climate change
  • Pop-up ad on your mobile device for cheap car insurance
  • Reporter’s Twitter post linking to a new investigative report

The answer, of course, is that they all are media messages.

The differences in these messages, though, are readily apparent. Where you find them, what purpose they serve, and what the message creator hopes you will do with the information contained in the message are all different. So are the information requirements in creating these different messages. The pop-up ad just needs the facts about the insurance company and a link, whereas the series on global warming needs extensive information from reports and experts to effectively create the message.

Whether you are a reporter, a public relations specialist, or someone who works in advertising, the main output of your work will be a media message.

vases

Pottery – CC0

According to Wikipedia,

“A message in its most general meaning is an object of communication. It is a vessel which provides information.”   

Just as it takes clay to make pottery, it takes information to craft a message. At all stages in the process of crafting a message, information is the essential material. Just as pottery can come in many shapes and forms and serve various purposes, so, too, do the information “vessels” communicators create.