What is CCO in Key Message Development and Why Does it Matter?

Tools for Better Message Mapping

Hand pinning string to create a map

During transitional, controversial, stressful or emotionally charged issues, accurate and easily understood messages are essential. Message maps ensures you have a central repository of consistent messages. They also help your audiences receive and understand your messages more easily. Once adopted, they allow an organization to speak with one voice, regardless of department or operational area.

Message Maps Are Essential Waypoints For Your Success Roadmap

Research and experience clearly show that one of the most important keys to successful communication in high concern situations is an organization’s ability to establish, maintain and increase trust and credibility with crucial stakeholder audiences. Stakeholder audiences include employees, regulatory agencies, citizen groups, the media, and the public.

Message Maps are constructed according to the principles of risk communication and have three goals:

  • Organize information in an easily understood and accessible framework;
  • Express the current organizational viewpoint on important issues, questions, concerns; and,
  • Promote open dialogue both inside and outside the organization.
Applicable To All Areas of Operations

Speaking with a client yesterday, we noted that it’s an incredible balance between your responsibility FOR your people and your responsibility TO your people.

My client has been an essential service during COVID-19, so they’re grappling with burnout, mental health fallout, disassociation, and in some instances outright revolt. While other organizations are grappling with relaunching, this company is doing its best to balance between acknowledging how unsavoury this pandemic is and the fact that there are real consequences for not following the guidelines.

Using the CCO template, developed through research by Dr Vincent Covello, I provided this Health and Safety Manager with the following advice:

1. Compassion: acknowledge to your employees that the ways of operating are different and challenging. They want to know that you care before they want to know what you know;

2. Conviction: remind them that these guidelines are from a different level of authority and there are responsibilities that come with the job. Yes, it’s hard and everyone has a role to play in keeping the community safe. If they are having a difficult time understanding why, they may need more information and you can facilitate that; and

3. Optimism: show signs of hope and where their cooperation is making a positive impact collectively. Praise them for their commitment and show them results where possible.

Download the Message Mapping Toolkit to get started with your key message development now.


Stay safe and be well.

Katie Robertson
[email protected]