What’s a Message Engineer?

It’s a question we are asked often: “What in the world is a message engineer?”

Let’s be clear upfront. We work with many professionals who studied for years to become civil engineers, traffic engineers or aerospace engineers. In a sense, it’s almost disrespectful to compare what we do — public relations — to the work of an engineer.

On the other hand, just as the real engineers do, we analyze, strategize, plan and build. As a real engineer might build a highway or a hotel, the Message Engineers team builds communications campaigns. Our work is centered on a message that was crafted with a specific goal in mind, just as that highway or hotel was built to meet a need or serve a segment of the community.

The selection of our name is a perfect example of what a message engineer does.

Our goal as a public relations firm is to demonstrate the value of building solid public relations programs based on analysis and planning. Plus, we wanted to capitalize on our extensive work on large highway construction projects as we also serve government, non-profit and corporate clients in other fields.

Our ability to translate “engineer speak” into plain English is helpful when working with any type of project where technical jargon or complicated rationale must be made accessible to the general public.

The Message Engineer moniker was born.

Crafting a Message to Achieve a Goal

How does this work in practice?

IDOT’s Dan Ryan and Kingery Reconstruction Projects

As public relations subcontractors to the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Message Engineers understood at the beginning that reconstruction of the Dan Ryan and Kingery expressways couldn’t happen unless a huge amount of traffic diverted off the highway. And since it was impractical to send large trucks up and down neighborhood streets, we crafted a simple campaign slogan:

Cars OFF, Trucks On 

The four-word message has proved easy for IDOT spokespeople to use in their media interviews. More important, the campaign effectively achieved significant reductions in traffic as the construction phase got underway. As we prepared printed newsletters, enewsletters, community traffic alerts and media advisories, the “Cars OFF, Trucks On” theme was everpresent.

The Will County Center for Economic Development

Another Message Engineers client benefitted from the message engineering approach.

The Will County (Ill.) Center for Economic Development has been making great strides in attracting businesses from all over the world, transforming the county into a global transportation center. But the local road network can’t handle the volume of trucks traveling in and out of the many distribution centers in the area.

The Message Engineers suggested creation of a Will County Transportation Blueprint. All of the projects in the Blueprint had been under discussion for years, but by placing them all in one document, we were able to focus community and political attention squarely on the need for a county gas tax to fund transportation improvements.

The underlying message of the word “Blueprint” conveyed a sense of deliberate planning that would lay a solid foundation for future development.

In just a few short months, the Blueprint was getting front-page coverage in the local newspaper, culminating in critical action by the County Board.

Finding the Right Message

In this complicated media world, you are bombarded with messages, from the spam in your inbox, to the”crawl” on the bottom of your TV screen, to the banner ads all over your favorite Web site.

The Message Engineers help the client cut through the clutter. In creative brainstorming sessions, hands-on media training seminars or clever copywriting for a brochure, we stay tuned to the client objective. Just like the guys with engineering degrees, we design a message that meets the goal, build a solid foundation and execute a plan.


The Message Engineers provide public relations and crisis communications planning to government agencies, non-profit organizations and business.

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