Check with your unit to ensure there are no further local policies or guidelines for this task.
When writing a briefing card for your subject matter expert (SME), you'll need to gather all the background information up front and separate out what is and is not for public information, as well as determine how you want the community to respond to your brief.
The background information contains all relevant information regarding the incident that will help you form your message. Not all information will be suitable for public release.
- Identify facts not for release
- Know who is affected by the information
- Know how the parties involved are affected
- Keep the length approximately 90 - 120 words. Note this may change based on the type and length of interview.
The end state should describe the conditions that define achievement of the commander's objective and consider the desired result of any public affairs engagement.
- Understand the command's position
- Write the end state that encompasses the desired result and states the command's position
- Should begin with "As a result of our communication effort, ..."
- Keep at three sentences or less
The public statement should be a short summary of the key releasable information and the organization's position.
- Determine the tone to shape the media interview or public engagement on the subject
- Provide substantiated and releasable information – who, what, where, why, when and how
- Should incorporate theme, messages and talking points into a short, conversational narrative
- Keep the length approximately 130 words
The theme is a unifying idea that supports the organizational end state.
- Should provide guidance and continuity for messages used across public affairs products and engagements
- Should link to the desired end state
- Keep the length approximately 1-2 words
The command message is a piece of tailored communication directed to a specific public that aligns with the theme and supports the desired end state.
- Elaborate on the command's position on the issue
- Ensure it is memorable, relevant and positive
- Strive for three messages
- Keep to a single sentence or phrase that focuses on sentiment
The talking points are substantiated, releasable facts, within the limits of the command’s authority, that prove or support the above message.
- Each message should have two talking points
- Each talking point should be 1-2 sentences that focus on facts
- Note: “limits of a command’s authority” parameter is key
- If your unit commanding officer can talk about it, confirm that you or a SME can also talk about it
- If your unit commanding officer cannot talk about it, you or a SME definitely cannot talk about it
Use this template to help you prepare your briefing card quickly.