Communications Toolkit for Academics

Telling Your Story

Step 3: The Message Box

The Message Box was created by COMPASS: Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea. Since its founding, COMPASS has expanded its scope beyond oceans to include communications trainings for all disciplines. The Message Box from COMPASS is a simple but powerful tool to help you sift through all the information in your mind to focus on key messages for your audiences.

It can help:

  • Explain what you do for the public or policymakers
  • Prepare for interviews with media
  • Frame a press release
  • Polish an abstract or cover letter for a publication
  • Structure a presentation
  • Write an effective op-ed or explainer
  • Prepare content for your website

For detailed information on how to use the Message Box, check out the Message Box Workbook (PDF).

When you first start creating a message box, it’s likely you will have too much information and will struggle to find a clear message. Creating a message box is an iterative process. You will go through editing and paring down. Think of having a big block of ice that you need to sculpt and chisel. The best part of the message box is that it is non-linear – you do not need to start in a particular box.

Message Box

Step 4: Writing Clear Messages

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