How many times do people have to hear a message from a company before they believe it? Well, according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, published last month, it’s 3.5 times. As a corporate speechwriter, I was naturally interested to hear this statistic.

According to the PR company’s international survey, which measures how much trust the public has in government, business and the media among other institutions, 65 per cent of those asked have to hear a message three to five times before they start to believe it. Just under a third (29 per cent) need to hear it four to five times. While for 12 per cent of us the figure is more than ten times. Perhaps more interestingly, just four per cent only need to hear a message once to believe it. In other words, if you’re involved in corporate communications and public relations, once is not enough – for 96 per cent of us, anyway.

Tony Blair’s spin doctor Alastair Campbell, claimed that only when an organisation is absolutely sick to death of saying the same thing over and over again will its target audience begin to take it on board. In my experience, working with politicians and companies around the world, he’s probably right.

When I’m corporate speechwriting for clients I normally include a key message three or four times during the speech. Working on the principle that you should “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them and tell them what you’ve told them,” I start with the key point very near the beginning – once I’ve got their attention, of course. I then sprinkle it in two or three more times during the speech, phrasing it in different ways and using different examples, anecdotes, analogies and case studies to back it up. Finally, I come back to it at the end so that it’s the last thing that the audience hears before we wrap.

Repetition, repetition, repetition – it’s every experienced corporate speechwriter’s friend.