Framing Theory George Cox Angela Park David Gorton
What is framing theory? • “PR ‘frame strategists’ can affect the decisions journalists/editors make about who to interview, what questions to ask, and what specific words to use when writing a story.”(Swann, p.18)
In other words… • Framing-a definition of reality through the use of inclusion/exclusion and emphasis of certain aspects of a message (Hallahan, 1999) • How something is presented “the frame” influences the choices people make
Types of framing • 3 common types of framing: • Valence framing: putting information in either positive or negative light • Ex.-9/10 doctors recommend vs. 1/10 doctors do not recommend
Types of framing • Semantic Framing: alternative phrasing of terms • Ex.-The glass if half full vs. half empty • Our stock prices took a hit vs. our stock prices plummeted
Types of framing • Story Framing:select key themes/ideas as the focus of a message • Incorporate a story/narrative that supports the theme • Ex- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDGrfhJH1P4
Group Activity • Analyze the following scenarios and try to think of how to frame the issues using valence, semantic, or story framing
Framing in PR • Often referred to as “spin doctors” or “image makers” • Communication is how we describe and define reality, which is a subjective process • Practitioners use frames to construct the reality of an organizations position
Framing in journalism • Select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in order to promote a particular • Problem • Definition • Moral evaluation • Causal interpretation
The role of framing in PR • Helps PR practitioners decide what frame of reference to use when crafting messages • By accentuating particular attributes of an organization, practitioners can influence perception by the public
Applications • Issues management-the way a message is framed can have a strong impact on an issue, particularly during a crisis • Ex: Spokesman for a car manufacturing company is at a press conference explaining that a number of cars from the new model are defective
Applications • A: “Out of the 1 million cars produced, 10,000 are defective.” • B: “Only 1% of all the cars produced are defective.” • Which headline sounds better?
Applications • Community relations-the way a message is framed can influence the community’s perception of an organization • Ex.“The Office of community relations works with partners from the community to ensure that we are a good neighbor who fulfills our responsibilities as a corporate citizen.”
Applications • Consumer relations-framing issues to maximize opportunity and minimize risk • Ex:Beef described as 75% lean vs. 25% fat • A ten dollar product could be marketed at a $5 discount OR a 50% discount
Applications • Media Relations-the way issues are framed creates the context in which the discussion occurs within the media • Ex. The war in Iraq was framed as a “War on Terror” in the media • Banks during the mortgage crisis were framed as “too big to fail”
Framing effects everything! Images The Frame Message dissemination Spokesperson What Else?
Think Back: Dominoes Case • Two employees posted disgusting videos on Youtube • Domino’s Frame • Commitment to delivering quality pizza using ethical practices to keep customers loyalty and trust
Framing and Domino’s Decisions • Key messages • Apologize for the isolated incident • Investigating and punishing the two employees • Want to keep your trust • Commitment to good quality pizzas • Spokesperson • CEO
Publics that they targeted • Customers and stockholders • Timeline • Crisis – have to act quickly • Domino’s frame affected the different elements and aspects they decided to utilize
PR Practitioner Job • Without effectively picking what to include, exclude, and emphasize • The frame will not be successful • The practitioners job • Pick the right frame • The right elements = effective frame
BP Oil Spill • BP used several different frames • The spill is not a big deal; only an inconvenience • “The environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest.” 1 • “Louisiana isn’t the only place that has shrimp.” 2 • Scientific frame; what is being done to fix the spill • “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.” 3 1 May 18, Tony Hayward on Sky News 2 May 20, BP representative Randy Prescott. 3 May 14, Tony Hayward, interview with The Guardian.
Frames (continued) • BP tried to shift blame onto the rig operators • "It wasn't our accident, but we are absolutely responsible for the oil, for cleaning it up, and that's what we intend to do,” Tony Hayward on Today Show
Result? • All of the frames backfired • People saw CEO Tony Hayward as out-of-touch and naïve • People saw the scientific frame as insensitive “The only time Tony Hayward opens his mouth was to change feet” - Glenn DaGian, former BP employee
Discussion • How would you frame this issue?
Other Frames • Media Framing in the UK focused on BP’s efforts to contain and clean up the spill • American media framed the spill as a human issue
Result of Competing Frames • BP, Tony Hayward, and the British Government were all seen as antagonistic players in this case • American media championed the cause of the people effected by the spill
Things to remember • Framing defines a reality by including, excluding, and emphasizing certain aspects of a message • Don’t spin facts or create images. • Framing helps practitioners analyze and solve problems and all aspects of the industry