Mine the Essence

Message Development & Communication Strategy

We know the difference between…


(eliminate everything you can)



(eliminate everything you should).

We mine for the essence to create elegant communication from dense, complex, complicated topics.

Why Mine the Essence is Different

We listen first.

We start with your audiences’ dreams, desires, fears and motivations –what they want to hear vs. what you want to say.

It’s about co-creation.

Your expertise pairs with ours. We polish your rough ideas. We teach and train along the way so that communication experts and novices alike learn something new.

We strive for elegant, not simple.

We keep digging until we get to the essence of your message.

Grounded in research.

We develop strategy grounded in influence and persuasion theory, coupled with a practical, applied lens, to inspire action and get results.

Mine the Essence Process


Smart Start

  • Kick-off meeting
  • Define success
  • Agree on timeline, roles, responsibilities
  • List & prioritize audiences

Survey the Landscape

  • Materials review
  • Audience input
  • Peer/ competitor review
  • Positioning assessment

Sift, Sort & Polish

  • Identify Key Themes
  • Message Development Work Session
  • Draft Message Framework and Proof Point examples
  • Test and Refine

Go to Market

  • Strategy Development (including vehicles and voice)
  • Establish Baseline
  • Message training
  • Materials development (as necessary)
  • Rollout/Launch



Peer/Competitor Review

Positioning Assessment

Message Framework

Message Training


Communication Strategy

Support Tools for Effective Implementation

Roll-out Priorities

Success Story: Annie E. Casey Foundation

For three years, Annie E. Casey Foundation incubated and fully funded an initiative, Expanding the Bench, to grow the number of social sector evaluators from under-represented communities. Internal changes required that they spin off the initiative sooner than planned –and do so responsibly, setting the project up for a stable and sustainable future.

Using our proprietary Mine the Essence Message Development process, CSR Communications developed a communication strategy, including message framework, for the transition of Expanding the Bench from a Casey Foundation-owned to a philanthropic field-owned initiative. We also developed and supported implementation of a fundraising plan, helping Casey Foundation reach its year one fundraising goal in nine months.

“CSR Communications is extremely knowledgeable about their craft and the nonprofit sector. They offered tools, talking points, and techniques that helped dispel myths and connect more clearly with our constituents. We felt well-prepared for communication with funders and stakeholders. They were equal parts directive (when needed) and flexible. Not only did we accomplish the goals we’d set forth, but we also learned so much. It was a capacity-building opportunity for us.”

Kantahyanee Murray, Ph.D.

Senior Research Associate, Annie E. Casey Foundation

Success Story: DC Public Library

In preparation for the first major renovation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in downtown D.C., DC Public Library faced the daunting challenge of soliciting input from residents and other stakeholders across all eight wards of the city, engaging residents in the architect selection and building design, and keeping the public informed throughout the multi-year effort. The outreach process also needed to address underlying racial and socio-economic issues, ensure the homeless feel welcome at the new Library and balance varying, often competing, needs of different populations.

We designed an outreach and communication plan that included an online feedback platform, focus groups with various target constituents, town hall meetings, design charettes, a regular blog, social media outreach, events and radio, print and bus ads. We designed and helped facilitate focus groups for teens, parents with small children and special collections users, among others, as well as eight community meetings. Community engagement exceeded client goals for both quality and quantity.

“CSR Communications provided both the sound strategic thinking and expert implementation support we needed to undertake such a significant outreach effort with a very small team. They helped us navigate the political and historical landmines involved while also keeping our blog posts on schedule and public input organized. They gave us A to Z support that helped us exceed our goals with the least stress possible.”

Joi Mecks

Chief of Staff, DC Public Library

“I work with subject matter experts who focus on complicated issues (deforestation and climate change). This sometimes lends complexity to our message instead of simplifying it. Nancy and her team helped us sift and prioritize our work to get clear on the essence that matters. Because they didn’t share our assumptions, their well-informed outside perspective helped bubble up the things we don’t always recognize as the most interesting or compelling. They gave us processes, discipline and structure we can use going forward.”

Caryn Stein

Vice President, Communications, American Forest Foundation

“Nancy helped a group of people with strong opinions, and different perspectives and  priorities get on the same page and commit to accomplishing something together. Our first  meeting was really high stakes for me. People were skeptical about the communication  project and about working with an outside consultant. She not only helped address all of  their concerns, but actually got people excited and agreeing to a path forward.”

Angel St. Jean

Assistant Director for Strategic Initiatives, Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (Baltimore, MD)

“Our new messages really resonate with all our key stakeholders – from Fellows to alumni,  Hill staffers and Members of Congress to partners. It was great to see lots of different heads  nodding as I spoke at our annual awards ceremony – using our new messages throughout. It’s  like everyone can see themselves in these messages and hears something that speaks to  what’s important to them.”

Shannon Maynard

Executive Director, Congressional Hunger Center