Who does this help and how?
What improves in the short-term? Long-term?
In the Benefits section, you list the benefits of addressing the Problem—all the good things that could happen if your Solution section is implemented. This ties into the So What of why your audience cares, but focuses on the positive results of taking action (the So What may be a negative thing—for example, inaction could lead to consequences that your audience cares about). If possible, it can be helpful to be specific here—concrete examples are more compelling than abstract.
Who does this help, and how?
What improves in the short term?
What improves in the long term?
Currently, land is being lost at a rate of 2 million acres/year—larger than RI + DE—help us stem the tide of rampant, thoughtless development and make development and species conservation go hand in hand.
Being more effective at wildlife conservation preserves our natural heritage and will only increase the $145 billion in revenue that comes from hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
Prevent costly process of listing species and designating critical habitat. Reduces potential conflict between land owners and gov’t, because wildlife and landowners. Increases governmental efficiency.
Brings gov’t into 21st century of wildlife conservation by being proactive, providing corridors, and helping species in the face of climate change.
This lists multiple benefits of creating corridors across the country for wildlife. But it also includes some information that outlines the problem, and would be better included in that section of the Message Box, for clarity.
Conserve wildlife and the multiple values they provide by allowing movement.
Prevent species from becoming endangered to avoid costly recovery efforts in the future.
Reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions
Increase revenue from wildlife viewing, hunting, and fishing.
This is a lot more streamlined and clear—Kathy can always add more detail back in discussions with members of Congress and their staff if she discovers she has time. By reorganizing some of the original information to other parts of the Message Box, Kathy can better help her audience understand what the benefits to them will be.
FAQs for the Benefits Section
My So What is similar to the Benefits. Is that a problem?
No, that’s not a problem. The Message Box is a sorting tool to help you decide what is most important. You may end up with only three key messages, or even less. It’s not about filling the boxes, it’s about deciding what is the most important thing to say, out of all the things you could say. If the So What and Benefit are similar, that’s fine. But make them relevant to your target audience.
What if the only Benefit I can think of applies to future researchers?
That’s fine, if your audience is scientists who are interested in long-term benefits for research. For an audience of non-scientists, though, try to think about how your research could connect back to the So What. If this was basic research that told you something new about the world, consider the applications down the road that this audience might care about, or why these discoveries might connect with them emotionally.
How do I avoid over-promising the Benefit?
Often, societal and environmental benefits accrue through a combination of efforts, approaches, and solutions. Your work might only be one part of that larger solution. It’s okay to identify the larger-scale benefits your work will contribute to. Just make it clear that the solutions you’ve identified are only one piece of the puzzle. You might also revisit your Problem statement and make sure that it’s appropriately scaled for the Solution identified. If necessary, you can include qualifiers such as “could,” though be prudent with your caveats and only use them when you really have to.